Agricultural Reform Again—or Not? by Randall Ireson

[CanKor Brain Trust member Randall Ireson published the following article in our partner-site 38North. Mr. Ireson previously spent over a decade working for the American Friends Service Committee (AFSC), managing an agricultural project on several North Korean farms. His numerous on-site visits to the country’s Co-operative  farms have made him one of the foremost experts on agriculture in the DPRK. –CanKor]

Beginning in early July, a variety of sources have reported possible changes in DPRK farm policy, especially with regard to the organization of work teams and the share of produce which farms can retain. Information is rather spotty and inconsistent so far, and even if the government has decided to implement policy changes on a large scale, it is uncertain if they would actually lead to improved food production. The central question is whether DPRK authorities are interested in creating conditions that genuinely support farm development, or whether they are just trying to manipulate a few select policy elements without addressing any of the fundamental institutional obstacles to economic growth.

DPRK farm scene (Photo by E.Weingartner)

DPRK farm scene (Photo by E.Weingartner)

One of the earliest reports [1] outlined the main elements of what is being referred to as the “6.28 Policy,” or more formally as the “June 28 New Economic Management Measures.” These measures are:

  • Sub-work teams at the farms will be reduced to 4-6 persons;
  • The state will collect 70 percent of the production quota and the farm will keep 30 percent;
  • The farm can keep any production above the established quota;
  • Produce retained by the farm can be sold in the market at free-market prices; and
  • Private investment in production is allowed if under the auspices of state or cooperative enterprises. Read the rest of this entry »
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