North Korea cuts rations to record low after bad harvest, says UN

People planting rice on the outskirts of the North Korean city of Kaesong in this file photo taken on June 2, 2017. A survey found that following the worst harvest in 10 years, "10.1 million people suffer from severe food insecurity, meaning they do
People planting rice on the outskirts of the North Korean city of Kaesong in this file photo taken on June 2, 2017. A survey found that following the worst harvest in 10 years, "10.1 million people suffer from severe food insecurity, meaning they do not have enough food till the next harvest".PHOTO: AGENCE FRANCE-PRESSE

GENEVA • North Korea has cut food rations to 300g a day - a record low for this time of year, and further cuts are likely after the worst harvest in a decade, the United Nations said yesterday.

The UN carried out a food assessment at the request of North Korea from March 29 to April 12. It was granted wide access, including to cooperative farms, rural and urban households, nurseries and food distribution centres.

The assessment "... has found that following the worst harvest in 10 years, due to dry spells, heatwaves and flooding, 10.1 million people suffer from severe food insecurity, meaning they do not have enough food till the next harvest", World Food Programme (WFP) spokesman Herve Verhoosel said.

The survey found North Korean protein intake to be very low, with some families consuming protein only a few times a year.

WFP and the UN's Food and Agricultural Organisation, which jointly carried out the survey, are among the few aid agencies with access to North Korea, which suffered a famine in the mid-1990s that killed as many as three million people.

Agricultural output of 4.9 million tonnes, the lowest since 2008-2009, had led to a food deficit of 1.36 million tonnes in the 2018-2019 marketing year, the report said.

"Prospects for the 2019 early season crops of wheat and barley are worrisome, with communities at risk as the lean season gets under way in June," the WFP spokesman said. It is planning another assessment during July and August to understand the full extent of the crisis.

REUTERS

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on May 04, 2019, with the headline 'N. Korea cuts rations to record low after bad harvest, says UN'. Print Edition | Subscribe