North Korea faces a food shortage of 860,000 tons this yearThe United Nations Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO) warned of a “difficult gap period” in the coming months.
The impoverished country, which faces multiple international sanctions over its nuclear and ballistic programs, has struggled for years to feed its population, which suffers from chronic deficiencies.
Last year, the coronavirus pandemic and a series of storms and floods put pressure on its weakened economy, and Pyongyang admitted in June that it was facing “current food shortages”.
North Korea plans to produce 5.6 million tons of grain “at a near-average level” this year, according to a Food and Agriculture Organization report dated Monday.
The report added that the amount is equivalent to 1.1 million tons less than is necessary to feed all of its population.
With imports expected to reach 205,000 tons, the country will face a shortage of around 860,000 tons.
“If this gap is not adequately covered by commercial imports or food aid, households may experience a severe period of deprivation from August to October,” FAO added.
Pyongyang closed its borders in January last year to stave off the epidemic, and as a result, its trade with Beijing, its main support, has been reduced to a minimum as international aid workers flee the country.
In addition, a series of recent hurricanes caused flooding that destroyed thousands of homes and inundated farming areas.
North Korean leader Kim Jong-un had made some references to the difficulties in recent months, noting that the food situation was “tense” and asking residents to prepare for the “worst situation ever”.
North Korea suffered a national famine in the 1990s, which killed hundreds of thousands of people after the fall of the Soviet Union and left the country without critical support.
During a meeting with one-party leaders, Kim noted that “the agricultural sector did not stick to its production plan due to the damage caused by last year’s typhoon” and demanded “measures be taken to solve the problem.” As reported by the official North Korean News Agency (KCN).
In this sense, he urged that “getting a good harvest (…) is a top priority” as well as referring to “the issue of fully addressing the protracted nature of the emergency” of the coronavirus pandemic.
(With information from AFP)