North Korea hosted a national conference on agricultural policy in early February. An assessment of the meeting from researchers at Johns Hopkins University says a direct role played by North Korean leader Kim Jong Un suggests reforms may be on the future agenda.
Writing on their blog 38 North, the researchers say Kim's "personal attention" to the issue indicates there may be some change in the direction of North Korea's agricultural development.
"Implementation remains uncertain, but Kim's letter suggests game-changing modifications to farm policy," they wrote Wednesday.
Washington suspended food assistance to North Korea in response to missile activity in 2012. North Korea is accused of putting its military and nuclear programs above the welfare of its people.
The North Korean leader calls for more mechanization and modernization in the agricultural sector, Johns Hopkins says. In his address to the conference, they note Kim blamed "imperialists for food shortages and calls for a patriotic effort to overcome attempts to 'undermine the faith in socialism.'"