North Korea's fertilizer imports from China skyrocketed in January from a year earlier, data showed Tuesday, pointing to Pyongyang's efforts to increase agricultural output.
The North brought in 35,113 tons of Chinese fertilizer in January, a huge increase from 2 tons from a year earlier, according to the data by the Korea Rural Economic Institute (KREI).
Such an amount is unprecedented for January, as the impoverished communist country used to buy a limited amount of fertilizer in winter, according to KREI experts.
The January figure is also two times bigger than the 17,416 tons for December, according to the data.
"Different from its previous pattern of buying fertilizer in spring, North Korea seems to be taking a very proactive move to secure fertilizer a long time ahead of its usual schedule. This means that the North is putting a priority on improving its farm output," said KREI researcher Kwon Tae-jin.
It is in line with its leader Kim Jong-un's policy goal of boosting food production, experts said.
In his New Year's message, the young leader said all efforts "should go for agriculture ... in order to build a strong economy and to improve the people's livelihoods."
Last year, Pyongyang bought a total of 207,334 tons of fertilizers from China, down by 18 percent from the previous year.
"This year, the trend is expected to be reversed given the January data and the fact that China has lowered duties," Kwon added.