Corn Price Plummets as Demand Slows

The price of corn in North Korea has fallen by nearly 1000 won, sources from inside the country report. 

Over the past two years the price of corn has
tended to remain at around half the price of rice, but a recent increase in
rice distribution and an overall increase in purchasing power has seen the cost of corn plummet.

A source in
Hyesan, Yangkang Province told Daily NK on the 11th that, “Corn cost
2000 to 2200 won in January and February but can now be bought for 1500 won.  The price continues to fall, and less
people are seeking it out in the markets, too.”

Furthermore, “People don’t think there’s any reason to buy
corn if the price of rice is only 4000 won [per kilo]. Perhaps that’s why rice
traders are doing far better in the markets than the corn traders.”

One kilogram of rice costs 4000 won in Pyongyang, 43000 won
in Sinuiju and 4400 won in Hyesan; a respective drop of 200, 200 and 100 won
from the previous month, the source alleged.

One kilogram of corn, on the other hand, can be bought for
1400 won in Pyongyang, 1550 won in Sinuiju and 1500 won in Hyesan; a 500-700
won drop from last month.

“It used to be that if the rice price was 4000 won then corn
would be traded at around 2000 won. It appears now, however, that the corn price is
falling irrespective of the rice price, and people are wondering why.  They’re still not going out to buy it,
though,” the source added.

It is thought that the significant drop in price may partly be
the result of last year’s plentiful harvest and increased rice distribution in
select regions, including Pyongyang.

Moreover, “When rice is expensive people get sick of corn
and plan to eat rice again as soon as it becomes affordable.  People are well aware that you get more value from
purchasing rice, as a lot of corn is lost during the processing stage. For these reasons they’re not really buying that much corn at the markets.”

Cho Bong Hyun of the IBK Economic Research Institute told
Daily NK, “Sanctions from the international community have resulted in the provision of more corn aid than rice aid. This means the price of corn falls more rapidly than the price of rice.”

 “The people’s
purchasing power is on the up because of the recent wage increases for
laborers, which in turn has seen a greater preference for rice in the markets,” he said.