By PISA Program Assistant, Mary Howard
On March 23, PISA was honored to host Dr. Linda Lewis’ presentation titled, “Inside North Korea Today: Working for Peace on the Korean Peninsula.” As American Friends Service Committee Country Representative for China/DPRK, Dr. Lewis directs AFSC’s Dalian, China office and agriculture program in North Korea. Dr. Lewis shared valuable insights about her interactions with North Korean farmers, and the importance of knowledge-sharing.
When considering North Korea, Dr. Lewis emphasized three key points to keep in mind: (1) the war on the Korean Peninsula is not over, it is only subject to a cease-fire agreement; (2) the humanitarian needs of the North Korean people are great; and (3) the DPRK’s isolation is extreme. Unresolved war retains the potential to erupt in new conflict. As a peace organization, AFSC has been working in North Korea for over thirty years to promote stability.
One of North Korea’s greatest challenges is food security. Only 15% of North Korean land is arable to support 3,000 cooperative farms upon which the population depends for food. To increase North Korea’s agricultural productivity, AFSC demonstrates sustainable farming techniques and shares practical knowledge. One success story is AFSC’s introduction, in 2004, of plastic trays for rice seedling cultivation The plastic tray technique results in a 10-20% yield increase over conventional seedling cultivation, and thanks to its cost-effectiveness and sustainability, North Koreans factory managers are now proposing to produce the trays domestically.
Dr. Lewis described AFSC’s other agricultural work in North Korea, from a greenhouse project to training exchange trips. AFSC, much like PISA, responds to partners’ needs and collaborates to find practical, sustainable methods to address problems. Please take a moment to view this short video, edited by PISA staff assistant Ms. Leann Ji, featuring Dr. Linda Lewis on AFSC’s work in North Korea.