Report: North Korea faces fertilizer shortage due to China coal sanctions

By Elizabeth Shim
Report: North Korea faces fertilizer shortage due to China coal sanctions
North Korea farmers are experiencing a shortage of chemical fertilizer during the spring planting seasons, according to sources in the country. Photo by Stephen Shaver/UPI | License Photo

May 5 (UPI) -- Chinese sanctions against North Korea coal imports are having an impact on other trade, including Chinese exports of chemical fertilizer to the relatively isolated country.

A source in Yanggang Province told Radio Free Asia the shortage of chemical fertilizer in the country is "serious," and is an outcome of Chinese implementation of U.N. sanctions.


"Until recently the chemical fertilizer we used was imported from China in return for coal exports," the source said. "But after China stopped importing [North Korea] coal, they also restricted exports of crude oil and chemical fertilizer, making it difficult to obtain the product."

"And, at present, it is difficult to produce chemical fertilizer domestically," the source added.

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The source said North Korea's political "center" had ordered people to begin producing substitute fertilizer "several times."

The shortage is a source of concern for farmers in the middle of a spring planting season.

A source in North Hamgyong Province said students at a middle school in Hoeryong city were "being mobilized" to produce compost due to the scarcity.

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China announced a decision to suspend all North Korea coal imports on Feb. 18.


Beijing announced the measure a few months after the United Nations Security Council adopted a new sanctions resolution that would target North Korea's nuclear weapons program by tightening restrictions on coal exports.

Resolution 2321 also bans North Korea sales of copper, nickel, silver, zinc and even statues.

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China agreed to play a key role in the agreement. All exports of North Korea coal would not exceed $400 million per annum or 7.5 million tons yearly.

In 2017, China has so far imported about $126 million of coal in January and $100 million in February, but it is likely the funds were allocated to other uses, including Pyongyang's weapons program.

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