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North Korea: World Vision Farms Set to Dramatically Reduce Food Deficit

World Vision is collaborating on an agricultural method that promises to drastically cut down on chronic hunger in a place already plagued by natural disaster.

November 2007

Dr. Yung-il Ham, a World Vision agricultural consultant, holds up a potato plant at World Vision's fifth potato seed project in Daehongdan, North Korea, located 1,400 meters (4,593 feet) above sea level in the country's mountainous northern region that borders China. This project is expected to help alleviate North Korea's ongoing problem with food shortages.
© 2007 Jusung Lee/World Vision
The completion of a fifth hydroponic seed potato farm in North Korea's northern county of Daehongdan is expected to boost quality potato production by 50 percent and dramatically cut food shortages in this impoverished country.

World Vision provided construction materials and technology for the advanced farms in collaboration with North Korea's Academy of Agricultural Sciences and the Asia Pacific Peace Committee — later replaced by the Korea National Economic Cooperation Agency (KNECA) — to help solve chronic food deficits recently exacerbated by deadly flooding in August.

A Reliable Solution

The facilities will soon be capable of producing 18 million tubers a year, and by 2010, they will supply quality seed for every potato farm in the country.

The first of the hydroponics seed potato farms was constructed in North Korea's capital, Pyongyang, in 2000. Since then, four other farms have been built in various locations.

Daehongdan was seen as an ideal location for the fifth farm, as its high altitude and cool weather will minimize the likelihood of the potato seed succumbing to viral infections.

KNECA representative Hyung-kun Park said the project had encountered many obstacles, but through it all, World Vision had proved trustworthy and credible.

"I believe that the seed potato project will significantly reduce food shortages in North Korea," he says.

High-Yield Results

Hydroponic seed potato farming is an advanced agricultural method by which virus-free tuberlets are cultivated into tubers using mineral nutrient solutions instead of soil. The process ensures higher yields than traditional nursery horticulture techniques.

The completion of the five hydroponics farms is in line with government policy to prioritize potato production as a means of resolving food shortages.

In addition to the seed potato project, World Vision and the Academy of Agricultural Sciences are experimenting with a fertigation farming project to grow tomatoes and cucumbers. Fertigation involves the application of plant nutrients via an irrigation system.

A Malnourished Population

North Korea's struggle to produce enough food for its 23 million inhabitants came to prominence in 1995 when the government took the unusual step of publicly seeking international food aid.

The World Food Program says harvests have improved since then, but a combination of severe economic problems, limited arable land, natural disasters, and a lack of agricultural machinery and inputs means there are still widespread food shortages. The organization says many North Koreans suffer a diet critically deficient in protein, fats, and micronutrients.

Learn More

>> Read about North Korea's recent catastrophic flooding and how World Vision has responded.

Two Ways You Can Help

>> Please pray for children and families in North Korea suffering from the recent flooding and ongoing food shortages. Pray that the hydroponic seed potato farming program will help alleviate the dire food situation, feed hungry children, and equip North Korea's people for the upcoming winter months.
>> Give monthly to help World Vision continue to respond quickly with aid for children families who need it most in the aftermath of disasters, including the recent flooding and food deficits in North Korea. Become an Emergency Response Partner.

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