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North Korea begins business of agroforestry

Jianchu Xu, East-Asia Coordinator for the World Agroforestry Centre, which has been providing technical expertise and training for the project since 2008, said agroforestry -- in this case the growing of trees on sloping land -- is uniquely suited to DPR Korea for addressing food security and protecting the environment.

"What we have managed to achieve so far has had a dramatic impact on people's lives and the local environment," Jianchu explains.

"Previously malnourished communities are now producing their own trees and growing chestnut, walnut, peaches, pears and other fruits and berries as well as medicinal bushes," Jianchu explains. "They have more food and vitamins and are earning income through trading."

Following the collapse of the socialist bloc in 1989 and a lack of subsidies for agriculture in DPR Korea, famine and malnutrition became widespread in rural areas.

DPR Korea is a harsh mountainous country where only 16% of the land area is suitable for cultivation. In desperation in the 1990s, people turned to the marginal sloping lands but this had a price: deforestation for cropping land and fuelwood left entire landscapes denuded and depleted of nutrients.

by S. C.
04 september 2010, World News > Asia

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