North Korea cuts food rations to a record low due to a poor harvest

North Korea cuts food rations to less than 11 ounces a day – its lowest ever for this time of year – after suffering worst harvest for a decade

  • A UN report shows that over 10 million people will suffer from food insecurity
  • The situation is particularly worrisome for children and pregnant women
  • Prospects for the 2019 early season crops of wheat and barley are worrisome
  • In the mid-1990s the country suffered a famine that killed 3 million people 

North Korea has cut food rations to less than 11 ounces a day, the lowest ever for this time of year, and further cuts are likely after suffering the worst harvest in a decade, the United Nations said on Friday.

The U.N. 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. 

‘Following the worst harvests in 10 years, due to dry spells, heat waves and flooding 10.1 million people will suffer from severe food insecurity, meaning they do not have enough food till the next harvest’, read the report. 

Despite farmers’ efforts, North Korea is suffering the worst harvest in 10 years due to adverse climate conditions. Two men are shown ploughing fields in Sangwon near Pyongyang (file picture). The country’s population will see their food rations cut to the lowest ever

These unfavourable climatic conditions, limited supplies of agricultural inputs, such as fuel, fertiliser and spare parts have had significant adverse impact on North Korea’s 2018/2019 food crop production.  

The agency said another assessment mission carried out together with the U.N. Food and Agricultural Organization last month found ‘worryingly low food consumption levels, limited dietary diversity and families being forced to cut meals or eat less.’ 

The worst harvest in decades only adds to Kim Jong Un’s worries

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

The situation is ‘particularly worrisome for young children and pregnant and breastfeeding women, who are the most vulnerable to malnutrition’, added the two Rome-based agencies.

Both organisations 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.

The population affected by the cuts and in need of food aid included 7.5 million of the 17.5 million North Koreans who depend on government rations and 2.6 million collective farmers.

‘Prospects for the 2019 early season crops of wheat and barley are worrisome, with communities at risk as the lean season gets underway in June. ,’ World Food Programme spokesman Herve Verhoosel said. 

The World Food Programme plans another assessment during July and August to understand the full extent of the crisis.  

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