North Korea is set to change its farming system, letting farmers sell or trade anything above certain quotas.
Previously they had to hand over anything beyond what they kept to feed their families.
The Ministry of Agriculture hasn't officially announced the changes, but farm workers were told during meetings last month.
They should take effect with the coming harvest.
Collective farms have struggled for decades to provide for the country's 24 million people.
In his first public speech in April, new leader Kim Jong Un openly acknowledged economic hardship and pledged to raise the standard of living.
The new quotas resemble a change China made in the late 1970s, which significantly boosted its economy.
The North Korean government currently supplies farms with fuel, seeds and fertiliser.
The harvested crops are dished out by the state, which aims to give North Koreans 600 to 700 grammes of rice or cornmeal a day.
However, a persistent shortfall of over 400,000 tons a year has meant lower rations, according to the United Nations, which has appealed for donations to make up the shortage.
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