North Korea is planning agricultural reforms that will permit farmers to sell as much as half of their crops privately.
The move is a reversal of the restrictions on private production introduced by Kim Jong-il in 2005, and suggests that his son and successor, Kim Jong-un, is aiming to increase the wealth of the country and its people.
Analysts said the move was designed to lower reliance on imports, reduce malnutrition and halt rising food prices. Previously, farmers were required to sell all their produce to the government, which would then distribute it among the population. "Peasants will have incentive to grow more food," a source said.
North Korea's food system has at times collapsed in the past, such as during the famine of the mid-1990s that caused as many as 3.5 million deaths.
The proposals, which are expected to be debated today by the Supreme People's Assembly, mimic China's rural reform in the 1970s and 1980s when farmers were allowed to hold on to surplus after meeting quotas, said John Delury, an assistant professor at Yonsei University in South Korea. He added that North Korea had less arable land than China, and "will have to find its own formula for successful development".
Toshimitsu Shigemura, a professor at Tokyo's Waseda University, said it would be difficult for Pyongyang's bureaucratic system to allow farmers to gain sufficient investment or enough fertiliser to increase production. (© Daily Telegraph, London)