ROME, Nov. 16 (UPI) -- Despite a relatively good harvest this year, 5 million people living in North Korea face serious food shortages, the United Nations said Tuesday.
The Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations said a crop assessment conducted this fall found North Korea needed to import an estimated 867,000 tons of cereal to feed its population for the next 12 months.
Warehouses in seven of the country's 10 provinces contained no cereal stocks in September and only low-quality corn was available for distribution.
Due to inadequate drying facilities, the corn contained excessive moisture and contaminants, U.N. inspectors determined.
"North Korea's economy has been growing at a sluggish pace of under 1 percent annually and for many years now has suffered significant food deficits," said Kisan Gunjal, an economist with the U.N. organization.
In addition to maintaining food assistance programs, the organization came up with a number of recommendations for improvement. They include upgrading storage facilities for potatoes, improving grain drying methods and increasing production of high-protein legumes.