North Korea expected to see this year's grain harvest rise more than 5% year-over-year amid good weather conditions, smooth supply of agricultural materials, industry officials say

SEOUL, South Korea , October 14, 2013 () – North Korea is expected to see this year's grain harvest rise over 5 percent on-year thanks to good weather conditions and a relatively smooth supply of agricultural materials, experts said Sunday.

The impoverished country began its fall harvest in mid-September across the nation and plans to wrap it up around next week.

Though the North's exact crop production is not known as it does not provide any official data, it is widely expected to produce more this year than a year ago.

"This year's crop production is expected to rise more than 5 percent on-year to surpass 5 million tons," said Kwon Tae-jin, a researcher at the Korea Rural Economic Institute (KREI).

"Fairly favorable weather conditions without major typhoons and droughts and a relatively good supply of materials for farming such as fertilizer would enhance its harvests."

A source in China with knowledge of the food situation in its communist neighbor also said earlier that the North's grain harvest is expected to reach as much as 5.3 million tons this year, a 7.7 percent increase from 4.92 million tons last year.

This year's estimated grain harvest roughly meets the North's annual demand of 5.4 million tons. The annual demand was calculated by the KREI.

The communist country's leader Kim Jong-un has called for efforts to build up the country's agriculture and light industrial sector, which has a direct impact on the lives of the people, under the ambitious goal of transforming it into "an economic power house."

A series of news reports by the North's media also said the country will enjoy a good yield this year.

The North's Rodong Sinmun, an organ of the ruling Workers' Party of Korea, reported on Friday that its grain harvests in North Hwanghae Province, its major breadbasket, are "much better than expected," as an effective use of fertilizer helped strengthen roots of crops so that they are less affected by natural disasters.

According to the (North) Korean Central Television last month, a ranking official of the North's agriculture committee in Pyeongan Province spoke highly of employees of a collective farm for "their hard work that led to good harvests."

Source: Yonhap news agency, Seoul, in English 0131gmt 13 Oct 13

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(c) 2013 BBC Monitoring Service

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