Use agricultural collaboration to kickstart North-South trust process

first_img Tracking the “unidentified yellow substance” being dried out near the Yongbyon Nuclear Center Pence Cartoon: “KOR-US Karaoke” Analysis & Opinion RELATED ARTICLESMORE FROM AUTHOR Analysis & Opinion Facebook Twitter Use agricultural collaboration to kickstart North-South trust process Analysis & Opinion center_img Analysis & Opinion SHARE By Daily NK – 2016.08.17 1:47pm Is Nuclear Peace with North Korea Possible? When it comes to the international humanitarian effort to improve the quality of life for ordinary North Korean residents, food production and agricultural development are the most fundamental problems to address. In the road ahead, it will be necessary to emphasize North-South cooperation in this field. One of the most essential early tasks for the development of mutual trust is North-South collaboration on agricultural projects. The momentum created by such agricultural cooperation can have positive implications for the step-by-step development of the trust process. Accordingly, the goals and direction of the agricultural collaboration itself will need to be implemented in a gradual, step-by-step manner. The trust process can be divided into building trust, expanding the foundation of that trust, and institutionalizing that trust. At the outset, the trust process will begin in earnest through implementing the first stage of the plan. This will involve moving away from the current climate of confrontation and embarking towards more cordial bilateral relations. In this stage, it will be important to establish short-term goals for the North-South joint agricultural development project. Agricultural cooperation should be couched in terms of humanitarian assistance, focusing on quality of life and providing food relief. The first stage should be considered the ignition element of the trust process. Second, the foundation of the trust process will need to be expanded upon. This means sustaining the temporary improvement in relations by inviting stability into the relationship. This involves expanding the short term agricultural development goals introduced in the first stage into medium term development goals. The first stage prioritized solving the food shortage problem, but the second stage should look to more fundamental solutions by expanding assistance for agricultural practices and food production. Third, the foundation of trust will take root. The improvement in the relationship should not be incidental or temporary. Rather, the relationship will need to be sustained and nourished over the long term via active and persistent cooperation. This means implementing long-term agricultural development programs. Up until this point in the plan, cooperation has focused on increasing production. At this stage, however, the cooperation will be marked by a gradual increase in various agricultural sectors for sustainable, long-term solutions.     In order to determine the starting point and direction of the aforementioned trust process, we need to begin by making two inquiries. It is first essential to consider what measures will be most effective in terms of maximizing return on a limited investment. The truth is that there is a limit to how much money South Korea can commit to these sorts of projects. That means it is wise to develop access points and footholds that optimally make use of these limited funds to yield the largest possible benefit in terms of agricultural assistance. Farming requires products and equipment such as fertilizer, manure, equipment, etc. To assist in the process from sowing the seed to reaping the harvest, a diverse array of instruments and materials are needed. Because farming is such a complex enterprise, it will be important to consider how each region, crop, and field requires different attention and care. This kind of detail-oriented approach will require cooperation on a regular, sustained basis.   The next thing to consider is how to increase the scale and scope of the agricultural development cooperation in a step-by-step manner. The types of agricultural facilities and equipment needed to expand from small scale to large scale operations are quite diverse. Raising the process up to a professional, large-scale operation is quite difficult. It will require gradually phasing in new facilities, equipment, and assistance to support the larger scale operations It is necessary to begin by acquiring the technologies and capabilities of small-scale assistance before upgrading to bigger and better projects. This can help minimize time spent on trial and error when moving up in scale and along the production chain. This is why the gradual method of expansion is attractive. It minimizes wasted time. Agricultural technologies will also be gradually adapted from general use equipment to more specialized equipment. The relevant implication for the financial side is that the monetary support needs to gradually increase in proportion to the development process.  The proposed method involves focusing the initial agricultural development in a foothold region and then expanding out and using a step-by-step process to gradually increase in scale. It can be implemented in the following fashion. First, in the short term, as far as cooperative farming goes, the agricultural development phase should start things off on individual cooperative farms. This is because cooperative farming, though composed of various sectors and complex components, is the smallest developable unit.  This aspect of the plan entails focusing on the improvement of food output productivity by tuning up pertinent sectors: food crops, fruit trees, vegetable farming, and animal husbandry. On a related note, a program can also be initiated to reinvigorate agricultural water use and refurbish farm equipment. Furthermore, person to person exchanges can be used to inject industrial expertise and transfer the necessary equipment. Since we already have sufficient experience and knowledge when it comes to engaging in agricultural collaborations with the North, putting these tried and true techniques into practice should not be overly difficult. Second, in the midterm, the agricultural development project should be expanded to the state and county level. This will entail increasing the scale of the individual cooperative farms by spreading these practices into the surrounding areas. Because North Korea’s farms are already operating on the state and county level, the commercial scale will need to be increased, but the sectors will continue to operate in the same respective states and counties that they did before the introduction of the development program. This will reduce added complexity to the transition process.  Other elements will need to be added at this point: irrigation, repair, and other industrial equipment needed for the maintenance and operation of a medium-scale collective farm. At this point, it will also be important to inject commercial investments in addition to the financial aid. This will prove that the financial model is sound over the long run. Although not overly abundant, there are some examples of collective farms in action: in North Korea’s Goseong County, there is a joint agricultural enterprise in Kumgang Mountain region. Third, it will be necessary to enact collaborative agricultural development for the long term over a wide area. In the mid-term stage, collaboration will be used to reinvigorate North Korea’s food production process and solve the food shortage crisis. In the long term, it will be necessary to cultivate the country’s holistic agricultural capacity by integrating various sectors so that we can reduce waste and optimize production. To do this, the agricultural supplies sector – including businesses that produce seed technology, pesticides, manure, and farming equipment – will need investment and improvement. Next, investment is needed for the research and development of products and techniques that eliminate diseases and pests.   Although it will be difficult, it is vitally important to get investment for agricultural infrastructure at the state and county level. Additionally, development cooperation will be needed to help provide repair and maintenance equipment/facilities to maintain large scale production cycles.  Up to this point, we do not have any examples to turn to in terms of large scale agricultural development programs. However, there have been multiple examples of special agricultural zones and cooperative agricultural regions. In 2013, 5 and 19 special economic zones were announced. I believe I have presented compelling reasons to consider the feasibility of gaining a foothold in North Korea and developing the trust process by cooperating on the agricultural programs that I have described above.  AvatarDaily NKQuestions or comments about this article? 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