2009 Year End Report

7월 10th, 2010

2009 Year End Report to FRB, GFCF and LCMS

Corn and other food crop Production
2.5mt of four different varieties of high yielding Chinese hybrid corn seeds (Danock-69, 86, 99 and Dangua 2151) were supplied, along with South Korean corn hybrid Gwangpyungock & Chungun-10 seed from North Chongchung Province in South Korea. We also continued a short season rice variety trial with KDRA of South Korea this year despite government restriction (which was imposed after the trials began). We were unable to carry out spring barley double cropping because no shipper could bring seed to North Korea on time. All four of the Chinese hybrids out performed any other hybrids, yielding over 7mt in 3 hybrids. The Danock 99 produced 11.5mt/ha, while the best domestic hybrid produced only 3mt/ha and the South Korean Hybrid yielded 4.9 and 5.9mt/ha. *See enclosed data for detail.

Based on trial results, we discovered that the south Korean early maturing variety Odaebyu and Sobaek appear to be the most suitable varieties for double cropping at our farms. It can improve food security considerably if we can increase above rice seed and condition them ourselves continuously.

The major draw back is that the corn seeds are hybrid seed, meaning that we need to provide them every year from China unless we find a contractor who is willing to provide inbred lines on royalty base. Given this, we will look into either contracting a seed production program or a license agreement to use their hybrid at a relatively lower price. Farmers realized how high quality seed with organic fertilizer inputs are the key to the successful production in their farms.

Chinese hybrids resulted in high yield and experienced few insects or disease problems in 2009. The hybrid actually adapted well in the climate conditions, despite the general believe that North Korean soil is too poor. They performed well in the research plots and in larger parcels of several hectares. This helped demonstrate how potential soil improvement and high crop yield is achievable with good farming practices with organic fertilizer inputs.

Cotton Production
With support from The First Kangbuk Church in South Korea, we were able to plant two metric tons of new cottonseed from China this year. Due to the extreme depletion of soil fertility in 2007 & 2008, in 2009 we focused primarily on fertilizer supply. Each farm worked very hard to provide organic fertilizer by making compost with any waste materials they could access. Therefore we requested from Howard Royer of Global Food Crisis Fund permission to redirect funds to purchase fertilizer. We were able to provide 60mt of combined fertilizer (12:16:12 for cotton) and 60mt of (19:19:19) for food crop, as well as 1.5mt of insecticide and limestone. The cotton crop performed very well until the beginning of October, but then started exhibiting stress from the lack of fertility in the soil by dropping or the cotton balls shriveling. As the weather became overcast and cold, the cotton balls did not open. The quantity was weak but so was also the quality of fiber. If cotton balls do not open naturally under warm sunny climate, the fiber does not become fluffy or shiny, which affect the fiber quality. Early planting with abundant organic fertilizer and combined fertilizer (with high NPK, preferably 21-17-17 from SK or 19-19-19 from China) have shown excellent performance.

The quality of cotton is key to producing textile quality fiber, so it is extremely important to harvest fiber from well-matured fully opened cotton balls. Since we are well aware of the characteristics of the hybrid and varieties of cotton, and by now are quite familiar with the cultivation problems, we are now ready to begin breeding seeds.

Direct seeding or mechanized planting will greatly relieve labor to devote to food crop production such as double cropping (wheat and barley), harvest and rice transplanting.

The highlight this year was the visit of the Great Leader Kim Jong Il to the Chondok-ri cotton field. The 100-hectare cotton field rests besides the major highway from Pyongyang to Kaesong. Since I was not there during his visit, I was later told that he was extremely impressed with the productivity of the farm and expressed keen interest in the cotton cultivars. His visit to the farm means that we are the most successful cotton grower in the country. (See attached DPRK newspaper) The farmers explained that there has never been as much coverage for a farm than this one in the past. Our farm manager told the General about Agglobe’s help in bringing in all the supplies and technical advice.

Fruit Trees
Pear and persimmon saplings were supplied to many individual homes this year from the Food Resources Bank(FRB) Funds and South-North Sharing Campaign of South Korea. These fruit trees were very well packaged to survive in transport, and the majority of saplings survived and doing well in private homes. We anticipate that the fruit trees will begin to bear fruit by 2012. The farmers were so pleased to have more diversity of fruit trees by adding pear trees. It is exciting to anticipate sweet snacks and earn additional income in near future. The fruit trees we planted in the previous two years are exhibiting healthy growth and some of them start to bear fruits which we advised to abort to keep energy to developing tree itself rather than picking a few fruits for now. We plan to produce dried persimmon along with other dried fruits and vegetables to earn some hard currency for self sufficiency.

The priority this year was fertilizer. All four farms requested fertilizer. Due to soil fertility depletion from shortages in fertilizer during the past two years, fertilizer demand was extremely high nationwide. We supplied 120mt of combine fertilizer from China. Because South Korea prohibited NGOs from sending agricultural supplies to North Korea, in April we changed our supplier from South Korea to China at the last minute. Thanks to the FRB Funds, we were able to purchase 120mt of chemical fertilizer, which helped increase our crop yield notably. Although FAO, WFP as well as numerous agencies reported poor crop in NK, our food crop and cotton did not suffer too much. Despite the backbreaking hard labor, the farmers are willing to rear swine and chicken to increase compost production. We are considering looking into the possibilities of establishing pasture and grain for animal to make a ration for Total Dietary Nutrition for our farmers. It may be worth look into it in conjunction with cotton processing plant.

Lutheran Churches Missouri Synod has provided $30,303 to provide the farm with a heated greenhouse and emergency food and seed. Because the farmers were busy planting and cultivating in the spring and early summer, greenhouse construction began in August, and by my last visit in December, they had not yet completed it. I suspect that the weather became very cold after I left, so they might not finish it until next spring. Even though the greenhouse may not be yet heated, they are still producing varieties of leafy vegetables and cool season crops to add to their diet during the winter month. It was told by farm managers that they don’t have enough to go around every household so the produce was distributed to those who has birth days, weddings or sad occasions such as death or illness. Farm families are greatly appreciating them, as villagers never had fresh greens in the winter. All four farms requested to have a greenhouse for each work team or at least ten green houses for each farm. We are working with alternative energy experts to have solar or methane gas energy to heat greenhouse to produce vine crops such as cucumber and squashes as well as tomatoes and peppers during the winter months.

Although we have been discouraging farmers from applying any pesticides, the major problem with cotton production has been cut worms and aphids. Despite the early presence of cut worms, farmers tried to eliminate them manually. Aphids, however, spread very quickly and curling and damaging tender leaves and apex so severely that we needed to spray before and right after transplanting. We supplied 1.5mt of the South Korean Brand Konido, and there was a decent control of aphids at the beginning of the growing season to prevent widespread and higher populations. Due to the sudden heat wave this spring, however, red aphids began to appear. Fortunately the subsequent cool weather prevented severe damage this year. We are, however, little worried for next year for the over wintered larvae may exponentially grow when weather condition is right again, although this winters cold weather might help us to minimize the over winter population.

Earlier control of insects in the small nursery plots reduces the quantity and dosage of chemical as well as labor. If we can’t control aphids quickly, they quickly multiply. I have been promoting the organic cotton production all along, and farmers have been working hard to make plant extracts for biological control, but it is still a big problem yet. The impact of aphids reduced early in season at the nursery plots before they were transplanted. We also saw that chemical efficiency showed reduced curly leaves and apex. Aphid infestation can be detected very easily for they are visible to the naked eye.

Healthy cotton plant produced
1.5mt of limestone was supplied to two farms in Samchon County to correct soil acidity. We still have a long way to go but slowly but surely we are hoping that the pH will soon be corrected for cotton and any other major crops. Soil pH in Samchon County is currently at 4.8, which is too acidic for even for the acid tolerant crop spp. Farm managers report that there are advantages in crop development and the fruit bearing is greater in the field where they applied limestone. Soil acidity correction is essential in Samchon County, and it will be necessary to improve soil pH in near future. Correcting the soil pH to improve production is a well known fact in most soil in Korean Peninsular, especially, in the North due to the fact that ammonium sulfate has been used as the primary fertilizer for a long time. We are convinced that the soil pH correction is the single most effective attribute to improve productivity of crop in Samchon County.

Winter coats
Upon request by a donor group, we supplied 160 padded winter coats to 10day kindergarten at Chondok-ri. Children who received coats were very appreciative and they looked very good. It was, however, a great mistake to provide only one kindergarten because news quickly spread and others complained that we provided for only one Kindergarten. It was heart breaking for not able to provide everyone a warm coat. Most children that came to receive a coat were wearing very thin and soiled jackets. There are some 5,300 children under 17(high school), 3,200 under 12, and over 2,000 under 7 years old. They all need winter coats and underwear. This was the most difficult task for our side. The donors insisted we buy winter garments for the children but could only raise $2,300. Sometimes donors do not understand the huge problems we face in the field. Our partners and farm managers were worried for the unfairness. We may need to supply the winter coats for the rest of the children at least up to 12 years old if not to 17 years old.

As I requested in the beginning of this crop year we had to divert our supply to concentrate on fertilizer. The short supply of fertilizer through out the country stems from two basic problems; 1) the high price of petroleum-based fertilizer, which tripled in 2008. The price of petroleum went down but its by product, fertilizer did not change much; 2) Current South Korean government has not only cut off 500,000mt of fertilizer supply from the government but they also prohibited private supplies by NGOs. We had no choice but assist farm workers with the most important supply that was fertilizer this year within the limited budget.

Thanks to your help, members of Global Food Crisis Fund, Food Resources Bank, Lutheran Churches Missouri Synod, The First Kangbook Church of South Korea, KDRA of South Korea and the all private donors of US and South Korea, especially, to Howard Royer, Bev Abma, and Patrick O’Neal, Elder Shim Myungshik and Dr.ST Kang of South Korea we made the most commended farm of the year in North Korea. On behalf of our partner Unpasan and four farms; Chondok-ri (Kim Youngchol), Guyon-ri(Kim Okhee), Ryonpyong-ri (Ahn Hwayong) and Dobong-ri (Gan Yongnam), and our technical staff, I thank you from the bottom of my heart.

30 W Mt Vernon St. Lansdale, PA 19446 | Phone: 267-266-6005 | Email: pkjoo@worldnet.att.net
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