Researchers at the university in Washington D.C., combed through data provided in an annual report from the U.N. Food and Agriculture Organization and World Food Program. They found an ongoing "incremental" change for the better in the North Korean agricultural system.
Writing on their blog, 38 North, the team from Johns Hopkins found improvements were marginal, mostly in yields for the rice harvest, but structural problems remain in the agricultural system.
The North Korean government is accused of placing its military and nuclear weapons program before the welfare of its people.
Johns Hopkins researchers said North Korea is moving closer to sufficiency in terms of food but the local market isn't robust enough nor are resources like fertilizer plenty enough to support a more productive system.
"Twenty years into the economic contraction that caused the food crisis, national policy continues to ask the people to do more with less," they said in a posting Wednesday.