DEMOCRATIC PEOPLE'S REPUBLIC OF KOREA
The first discussions of SRI in the DPRK took place in 1998 when a small delegation from the Academy of Agricultural Sciences (AAS) visited Cornell, under the auspices of the American Friends Service Committee (AFSC). In 2005, a larger delegation including AAS scientists visited Cornell under the auspices of The Asia Foundation, and there was a long discussion on SRI possibilities. In 2008, four cooperatives in the Pyongyang area with which the AFSC was working in cooperation with AAS and the Ministry of Agriculture, under the auspices of the Korean Committee for Solidarity with World People, experimented with SRI methods and achieved yield increases of 0.5-1.0 tons/ha by using just some of the practices adapted to local conditions. In 2009, the cooperatives had 250 hectares under several different versions of SRI practice. In 2010, trials are underway to assess what would be optimally wide spacing under local conditions.
During February, 2010, a delegation of rice specialists from AAS participated in an international SRI workshop in Hangzhou organized by the China National Rice Research Institute (see AFSC PowerPoint). The Asia Foundation, which supported the workshop, offered to further assist such exchanges within the East Asian region. In April 2010, AFSC conducted a tour for DPRK farm managers to visit Sichuan province in China to learn more about SRI experience in conditions fairly similar to theirs. AFSC in consultation with DPRK partners has also developed a manual on the initial stages of rice planting and a Korean language manual on SRI. Several cooperative farms in the Pyongyang region are continuing with evaluation of SRI methods in 2010.
The Mennonite Central Committee (MCC) is encouraging evaluation of SRI methods on several cooperatives with which it works in the DPRK. The FAO office in Pyongyang has taken an interest in SRI, and there may be SRI components in an IFAD project on conservation agriculture that FAO is advising on. The New Zealand-DPRK Society has in the past provided information on SRI to some cooperatives with which it has connections. It has dubbed a Korean soundtrack onto the training video produced by ADRA in 2004 based on Indonesian SRI demonstrations and has made this available to cooperatives in DPRK. A 2012 video produced by the American Friends Service Committee and subsequent 2014 Radio Free Asia article documents AFSC work with promoting an SRI adaptation using plastic trays. During 2013, an article in The Johns Hopkins University's 38 North website speculates that some of the increase in rice yield is likely a result of wider use of SRI.
- [June 26, 2014] A recent article and audioclip (in Korean) on the Radio Free Asia website discusses the continued progress of the NGO American Friends Service Committee initiative to promote an SRI adaptation that uses plastic trays to grow seedlings. For details of the system, see the AFSC video noted in the 2013 section below.
American Friends Service Produces Video on SRI Adaptation with Planting Trays
Article in Johns Hopkins 38 North Website Refers to Spread of SRI in North Korea
An overview of FAO / World Food Programme's 2013 Crop and Food Security Assessment Report (CFSAR) for the DPRK was reviewed in a December 2013 article in 38 North (a publication that offers regular analysis of DPRK-related issues.) The article notes that the System of Rice Intensification, which the author believes was introduced about five years earlier, has reportedly become popular in the North. However, according to Randall Ireson, SRI (as practiced in the DPRK) is coupled with the use of imported plastic trays for planting the rice seedlings, thereby making implementation somewhat dependent on the availability of the trays. Nevertheless, he further notes that "some of the increase in rice yield is very likely caused by the wider use of SRI." (See full article in the 38 North publication that puts North Korean agriculture into a wider perspective.)
A video produced by the American Friends Service Committee (AFSC) documents their work with rice production beginning in 2004. Their efforts on an SRI adaptation uses plastic trays is documented in the video Improving rice production in North Korea (DPRK). (More information about AFSC's work in the DPRK can be found on the AFSC website's North Korea section.)
Current Situation with
SRI in the DPRK
Some cooperative farms in the Pyongyang region are continuing with evaluation of SRI methods as 2010 draws to a close. The growing season presents some constraints for rice production. Farmers have been particularly interested in experiments with spacing (see photo at right), but the other SRI methods suitably adapted to local conditions are also of interest. One farm manager has calculated that his farm with adaptations of SRI methods can produce 1 ton more paddy yield per hectare, and save 20,000 won per hectare.
During a visit to DPRK in September 2010, Wuna Reilly, representative of the American Friends Service Committee in China and DPRK, who has helped to get SRI introduced in the country, gave a workshop on SRI with three farms participating. A scientist from the Academy of Agricultural Science also presented a PowerPoint on SRI as being adapted in DPRK. Wu Na reports that there is some interest from donor agencies such as UNDP and EU, which could support wider use of the resource-conserving methods. Currently, adapting water management regimes to SRI requirements presents some institutional challenges for the spread of SRI methodology.
Rice Specialists from DPRK Participate in SRI Workshop in Hangzhou,
At the end of February, 2010, a delegation of rice specialists from the Academy of Agricultural Sciences (AAS) in the DPRK participated in an international SRI workshop organized and hosted by the China National Rice Research Institute in Hangzhou, where Chinese SRI researchers from Sichuan, Hunan, Heilongjiong and Zhejiang provinces exchanged and shared knowledge on SRI methods and results (see AFSC PowerPoint presentation). The Asia Foundation, which supported the workshop, offered to further assist such exchanges within the East Asian region. In April 2010, AFSC conducted a tour for DPRK farm managers to visit Sichuan province in China to learn more about SRI experience in Sichuan and its innovative rice production methodologies based on the local climate.
Increased SRI Involvement for 2010
The four cooperatives near Pyongyang who have been working on SRI for several years are continuing trials, with added emphasis on assessing optimal spacing under local conditions. The Mennonite Central Committee (MCC), which also has collaborative programs focusing on improving soil fertility and sustainability underway with DPRK cooperatives, expects to introduce and evaluate SRI methods in 2010.
The FAO office in Pyongyang has for several years taken an interest in SRI applications for DPRK conditions, and the New Zealand DPRK Society has provided information on SRI to some cooperatives with which it has connections. A Korean soundtrack has been dubbed onto the training video produced by ADRA in 2004 based on Indonesian SRI demonstrations, making this available to cooperatives in DPRK. It is now also available on YouTube in three parts: (Part I: 8:59 min.; Part II: 10:39 min.; Part III: 5:14 min.)
Manuals Highlight Adaptations of SRI Methods for Conditions in
AFSC, in consultation with DPRK partners, has developed a manual on the Initial Stages of Rice Planting, focusing on seed selection and treatment, raising seedling in plastic trays which becomes feasible with much reduced plant populations, and transplanting options. A subsequent manual will address water management options. An illustrated manual in Korean language for SRI practice has also been produced by AFSC. At the international SRI workshop convened in Hangzhou in early 2010, the AFSC representative presented a PowerPoint on the cooperative program it has with partners in the DPRK, showing pictures of the plots and fields and spacing trials.
Four Cooperatives in the Pyongyang Area Evaluate SRI
In 2008, four cooperatives in the Pyongyang area with which the AFSC was working in cooperation with the Ministry of Agriculture and AAS, under the auspices of the Korean Committee for Solidarity with World People (KCSWP), did their own experiments and evaluations with SRI concepts and methods, focusing on improving the initial stages of crop establishment (younger seedlings, wider spacing, etc.). Special attention was paid to the conditions of agriculture in DPRK, including colder climate, poorer soils, and limitations on labor and capital investment.
The 2008 experiments showed that paddy yields could be increased by 0.5-1.0 tons/ha by using just some of the techniques and principles adapted to local conditions, holding out the hope that even more increase could be achieved with more complete use of the SRI recommendations with appropriate modifications for climatic and other constraints. In 2009, the cooperatives had 250 hectares under several different versions of SRI practice.
SRI Concepts Gaining Ground in the Democratic People's Republic of
The first discussions of SRI as it might be relevant to farmers in the DPRK were in 1998 when a small delegation from the Academy of Agricultural Sciences (AAS) visited Cornell, under the auspices of the American Friends Service Committee (AFSC), the reconciliation and service arm of American Quakers. In 2005, a larger delegation including AAS scientists visited Cornell under the auspices of The Asia Foundation, and there was a long discussion on SRI possibilities.
- 2014. 미NGO, 쌀 증산 신기술 북에 전수(U.S. NGO expands rice production technology transfer to the north). Radio Free Asia website. June 24. [Korean language broadcast about American Friend Service work with SRI in plastic trays in North Korea.]
- Ireson, Randall. 2013. The state of North Korean farming: New Information from the UN Crop Assessment Report. 38 North website. December 18. (38 North is a project of the U.S.-Korea Institute at the Paul H. Nitze School of Advanced International Studies (SAIS), Johns Hopkins University.) [The third paragraph in the Reading between the Lines section of the article says the SRI is popular in North Korea and uses plastic trays, which, unfortunately can be hard to come by.)
- 2009. Agricultural Technology Dissemination Handbook for the Initial Stages of Rice-Planting: Rice Seed Treatment, Raising Seedlings in Nursery Trays, and Transplanting. American Friends Service Committee D.P.R. Korean Agriculture Program. System of Rice Intensification website. (9p.,115KB pdf)
- 2009. Agricultural Technology Dissemination Handbook for the Initial Stages of Rice-Planting. (Korean language). American Friends Service Committee D.P.R. Korean Agriculture Program. System of Rice Intensification website. (7p., 487KB pdf). [Korean language agricultural technology dissemination handbook for the initial stages of rice-planting: Rice seed treatment, raising seedlings in nursery trays, and transplanting]
- 2012 (May 22). Improving rice production in North Korea (DPRK). 2:28 min. AFSCvideos channel, YouTube. [An SRI adaptation introduced by the American Friend Service that uses plastic trays.]
- 2009 (May 24). System of Rice Intensification. Korean Hangul
Language version of the original SRI video by ADRA (an NGO in New Zealand) about
SRI in Indonesia. (in three parts). Available on the danafastforward channel on
Part I: 8:59 min.; Part II: 10:39 min.; Part III: 5:14 min.
DPRK Agriculture Program: SRI Project in four local farms.
PowerPoint by Wuna Reilly, China and DPRK Country Representative, American Friends Service Committee, presented at the Workshop on the System of Rice Intensification, Exchanging Experience in China, the Democratic People's Republic of Korea and Internationally, held February 28 - March 2, 2010, in Hangzhou, China. 20 slides.