North Korea’s Food Shortages Exacerbated by Worse than Usual Harvest
According to a monitoring group, North Korea’s harvest will be worse than usual, exacerbating already severe food shortages in the country.
Swiss-based Geoglam said, after using satellite images, that drought had affected crops in an area known as the “cereal bowl”.
According to the UN data, 4 in 10 North Koreans need food aid and crop production is at its lowest level in five years.
Food shortages in North Korea are made worse by international sanctions on the country over its nuclear program.
In May food rations – which feed about 70% of the North Korean population – were cut from 550g (19.5 oz) to just 300g per person following poor results in this year’s early harvest.
According to Geoglam, North Korea’s main harvest in the southern provinces of South and North Hwanghae and South Pyongyan was complete but was estimated to have produced a below-average quantity of crops.
The organization also said that North Korea’s overall food situation was not expected to improve.
The country experienced severe droughts in spring and summer, and in September it was hit by Typhoon Lingling, which flooded farmland.
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In September, the UN’s Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO) said poor rice and maize harvests had left more than 10 million people in urgent need of assistance.
North Korea has also had to cope with a regional outbreak of swine fever in its pig herd, leading to reduced pork production.
Earlier this year a UN team found families surviving “on a monotonous diet of rice and kimchi most of the year, eating very little protein”, according to a report by the World Food Program. The report said some families were eating protein only a few times a year.
China and other countries have already provided North Korea with food aid so far this year.
Despite its situation, North Korea has refused to accept 50,000 tonnes of rice from South Korea. This is reportedly because of tensions with the South linked to stalled talks between Pyongyang and the US over the North’s nuclear program.
Food shortages are regular in North Korea. In the 1990s a severe nationwide famine is thought to have killed hundreds of thousands of people.