Sariwon, North Korea – Food production has historically been a challenge for the North Korean government, and since the devastating famine that hit the country in the 1990s it has focused on increasing output of grains and some proteins.
Al Jazeera visited the Migok Cooperative Farm that is considered a model for the country, where more than 1,700 farmers work 750 hectares of land. Officials said new tractors were being deployed, and the country is now producing its own fertiliser.
However, even though North Korea has gotten better at feeding its people, many challenges lie ahead. The World Food Programme says 40 percent of mothers and children are chronically undernourished, with most children lacking Vitamin C and calcium.
In order to give people incentive to farm, North Korean leader Kim Jong Un’s government is now allowing people to sell extra produce that they grow at local markets, a practice that was previously forbidden. Kim’s grandfather and founder of North Korea – Kim Il Sung – developed the agricultural system in 1946 by turning private farms under colonial Japanese rule into collective operations.
While the government is focusing on improving food production, it has a long way to go in intensifying agriculture activities to a level that would allow the country to cut its deep dependency on international food aid.