North Korea is encouraging citizens to make manure from their own poop to counter a shortage of fertilizer from China, reports say

North Korea is encouraging citizens to make manure from their own poop to counter a shortage of fertilizer from China, reports say
A demonstration in Kim Il Sung Square in Pyongyang, North Korea, in January 2022.KIM WON JIN/AFP via Getty Images
  • North Korea is struggling to source enough fertilizer for its crops.
  • State media is now encouraging people to make their own manure, The Daily Beast reported.

North Korea is asking its citizens to use their own poop to make manure as the country faces widespread food shortages, reports say.

The country has long sourced its agricultural manure from China, but that trade, along with a number of other goods, ceased after North Korea closed its borders at the onset of the COVID-19 pandemic.

As a result, North Korea has declared securing enough manure the first "struggle" of 2022, Daily NK reported.

State-run media has also been encouraging people to make "homemade" manure, The Daily Beast reported. A source in North Hamgyong Province told Daily NK that residents had started "producing fertilizer from human waste" after authorities launched a 10-day drive to increase production.

Citizens were told to produce a quota of 150 kilograms of manure, with people working in state factories told to provide 500 kilograms between January 4 and January 14, Daily NK reported.


In an attempt to incentivize people, North Korea has also introduced a pass which will only be given to people who achieve that quota of manure production, Daily NK reported. The pass lets people trade manure, the outlet said.

The North Korean Central Committee also briefly shortened the manure trade markets by one hour, so that people had one more hour to make manure, Daily NK reported.

"As the coronavirus emergency has made producing or importing fertilizer difficult, it seems that they have increased our assigned amount," the source said, according to Daily NK.

"In the end, the burden of gathering the fertilizer necessary for farming has all fallen on the shoulders of ordinary people."

As well as a shortage of manure, North Korea is also struggling to secure enough food.


In June, North Korean leader Kim Jong Un declared a "tense" food crisis and, in September, he urged North Koreans to come up with solutions to the "food problem," NK News reported.

In early October, a United Nations expert said that the situation was precarious, Reuters reported. That month, North Korea said it had started breeding black swans to slaughter to provide a new food source.