A strategy to counter a shortage of fertilizer from China
North Korea is urging its population to produce manure from their own feces, as the country suffers significant food shortages since urea fertilizer imports have recently declined. This comes as South Korea faces urea shortages as a result of a Chinese prohibition on its export.
While urea may be made from ammonia recovered from natural gas, this is not only expensive, but China also consumes the majority of its natural gas for electricity generation. As a result, China’s urea production has dropped dramatically.
The country has imported agricultural manure from China for a long time, but that trade, along with a number of other items, came to an end when North Korea closed its borders in the wake of the COVID-19 crisis.
People have also been encouraged to manufacture “homemade” manure by state-run media. After authorities launched a 10-day campaign to improve production, citizens in North Hamgyong Province began “making fertilizer from human waste”.
Citizens were required to generate 150 kilos of manure, with state factory workers being told to give 500 kilograms between January 4 and 14.
North Korea has also introduced a pass that will only be provided to persons who meet the quota of dung production in order to allow people to trade it.
The North Korean Central Committee also temporarily extended the manure trading markets by one hour, allowing individuals to manufacture additional manure.
In addition to a lack of manure, North Korea is having difficulty getting enough food.
North Korean leader Kim Jong-Un proclaimed a “tense” food crisis in June and asked North Koreans to find answers to the “food dilemma” in September.
A UN expert stated in early October that the situation was precarious. So North Korea announced that it had begun breeding black swans to slaughter as a new food source that month.