Millions face food shortages in North Korea: UN

Millions of people in North Korea will continue to face food shortages next year, a UN report has warned, saying that the country`s food production has increased only marginally in the recent past.

Last Updated: Nov 18, 2010, 00:31 AM IST

United Nations: Millions of people in North
Korea will continue to face food shortages next year, a UN
report has warned, saying that the country`s food production
has increased only marginally in the recent past.

North Korea requires 867,000 metric tons of grain to feed
its people for the next 12 months but the government plans to
import only 325,000 metric tons, according to a recent study
by the Food and Agriculture Organisation and the World Food
Programme.

The team from the World Food Programme and Food and
Agriculture Organisation visited seven of North Korea`s 10
provinces, accounting for about 90 per cent of the country`s
cereal production.

The warehouses visited contained no cereal stocks while
low quality maize available for distribution was moist and
contaminated, the report said.

"North Korea`s economy has been growing at a sluggish
pace of under one per cent annually and for many years now has
suffered significant food deficits", said Kisan Gunjal, FAO
economist and co-leader of the mission.

"Furthermore, the performance of the important
agriculture, forestry and fisheries sector has been erratic
with negative annual growth rates over the last years," Gunjal
noted.

Rice, followed by maize, potatoes, wheat/barley and
soybeans, is the most important crop in North Korea.
The report said that children, pregnant women and
nursing mothers, the elderly were the most vulnerable to the
food shortages.

In recent years, total cereal production has stagnated
at around 4.5 million tonnes annually while 5.35 million tones
is needed.

"The cereal rations provided by the government through
its Public Distribution System in 2010/11 would likely
contribute about half the daily energy requirements," Joyce
Luma, co-leader of the team from WFP.

"A small shock in the future could trigger a severe
negative impact and will be difficult to contain if these
chronic deficits are not effectively managed," Luma noted.

PTI