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N. Korea's fertilizer imports from China jump 5-fold in April

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(Globalpost/GlobalPost)

SEOUL, May 27 (Yonhap) -- North Korea's fertilizer imports from China jumped nearly five-fold last month from a year earlier, a report showed Monday, pointing to Pyongyang's efforts to increase agricultural produce.

The North brought in 91,318 tons of Chinese fertilizer in April, compared with 15,218 tons a year earlier, according to the report released by Kwon Tae-jin, an analyst at the Korea Rural Economic Institute.

For the January-April period, the total fertilizer imports from China, the North's closest provider of resources, came to 121,109 tons, 4.6 times more than those shipped in for the same four months last year, according to the report based on data from the Korea International Trade Association.

The sharp increase in fertilizer imports seems unexpected, given that China is imposing high-rate export customs in order to limit outbound shipments of Chinese fertilizer, Kwon said.

"The increase this year shows that the North is putting top priority on boosting productivity in the agricultural sector as well as that the conditions for fertilizer production in the North Korea are in a bad shape," the analyst said.

The report also showed that the North imported 25,850 tons of grains like rice and corn from China last month, only half of what it brought in from China a year earlier.

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