Kim Jong-un called on North Korean officials to deal with food supply issues and highlighted the danger of climate change.
In 2020, typhoons badly impacted vital crops, while weeks of drought followed by heavy monsoon rains have damaged them this year as well.
The North Korean leader said measures to overcome “abnormal climate” were needed, and asked also officials to tackle drought and floods.
Kim Jong-un’s comments came in a speech to the ruling party’s Politburo on September 2.
He had said that the “danger” of climate change had become “higher in recent years adding that “urgent action” needed to be taken.
Kim Jong-un also called for improvements to North Korea’s flood management infrastructure saying: “River improvement, afforestation for erosion control, dyke maintenance and tide embankment projects”, should be prioritized.
Apart from the damage caused by natural disasters, North Korea’s economy has been hit hard by international sanctions, as well as border closures and harsh lockdowns to prevent the spread of Covid-19.
Although North Korea has not reported any Covid-19 cases, it has sealed its borders and imposed lockdowns.
The border closures have affected vital imports from China.
“Tightening epidemic prevention is the task of paramount importance which must not be loosened even a moment under the present situation,” said Kim Jong-un, according to state media.
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
According to the UN data, 4 in 10
North Koreans need food aid and crop production is at its lowest level in five
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.
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
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.
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