On the 12th, the UN’s Food and Agriculture Organization and World Food Programme released their latest North Korean food and crop assessment. It declared that the country’s total staple food production in the period November 2011 to October 2012 was 4.9 million tons, some 507,000 tons short of the stated necessary level, but around 10% above that of the previous year.
However, questions are now being raised about the report, with experts and defectors alike asking whether the two UN agencies have had the wool pulled over their eyes by a Kim Jong Eun regime keen to emphasize normalization of state operations in a new era.
“If you look at the flooding, typhoons and other bad weather plus the nature of North Korea’s basic agricultural facilities, there is no way that they got 4.9 million tons out of it,” one Seoul-based expert, who requested anonymity, stated flatly to Daily NK yesterday. “It looks like the North Korean authorities deliberately inflated the figures they reported to the UN.”
“North Korea has reduced its stated output in the past in order to try and obtain international aid,” the expert further pointed out. “But this time they appear to have reported this figure to international agencies in order to show the outside world that food production is now going normally since the Kim Jong Eun regime is one-year old.”
“Kim Jong Eun wants to show the world that he is a leader who can feed his people,” the expert reiterated. “That 4.9 million tons can be used as an example of one of Kim Jong Eun’s administrative achievements, and can also help to attract assistance from the international community..”
According to the food and crop assessment in question, yields of potatoes, wheat and barley all rose during what is known as the “marketing year.” However, it was rice and corn that really stood out, rising 11% and 10% respectively, nominally causing the overall harvest to rise approximately 10% year on year.
However, a defector with experience of collective farm management reacted equally skeptically to the figures, saying, “They have stated this production figure in order to promote Kim Jong Eun’s achievements. They are doubtless now going to teach the people that production rose like this thanks to Kim Jong Eun’s leadership.”
“The ones that suffer because of this harvest inflation are the North Korean people,” he went on. “Because the amounts taken for the military and as ‘patriotic rice’ will be based on this inflated figure, the amounts left for distribution to ordinary people will actually shrink.”
“Because North Korea is a closed and highly ideological state, it is impossible even for an expert agency to accurately put an accurate figure on food production,” Lee Min Bok, a North Korean agricultural expert, agreed. “Because North Korea does not allow them to look at every area of the country, there is always the danger of this kind of negative outcome. Incessantly demanding the right to visit all areas is primary in any attempt to solve this problem.”