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USDA: Half of North Koreans to encounter food shortages by 2025

The report said faulty policies and structural problems in the country were causing North Korea’s chronic food shortages.

By Elizabeth Shim
USDA: Half of North Koreans to encounter food shortages by 2025
North Korean soldiers pick up another soldier at a makeshift pontoon dock on the banks of the Yalu River near Sinuiju, across the Yalu River from Dandong, China's largest border city with North Korea, in Liaoning Province, on May 28, 2015. A USDA report stated that by 2025 around half, or at least 13 million North Koreans could be subjected to an inadequate diet of less than 2,100 calories per day. Photo by Stephen Shaver/UPI | License Photo

SEOUL, July 23 (UPI) -- The U.S. Department of Agriculture forecasts half of North Korea's population is expected to suffer from food shortages in 2025 due to income inequality and uneven distribution.

The estimate was included in the USDA's most recent report on international food security, an annual assessment that provides a global overview and forecasts, Voice of America reported.

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The report stated that by 2025 around half, or at least 13 million North Koreans could be subjected to an inadequate diet of less than 2,100 calories per day – the recommended number of calories the U.N. says is the minimum number the average person needs to stay healthy.

The report said faulty policies and structural problems in the country were causing North Korea's chronic food shortages, South Korean news agency Yonhap reported.

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The USDA research indicated, however, the food distribution gap is expected to shrink between 2015 and 2025, from 235,000 to 140,000 tons.

In other words 140,000 tons of supplementary food would be needed in ten years to meet the needs of low-income North Koreans who cannot afford to feed themselves.

USDA agricultural economist Stacey Rosen said there is enough food to meet the nutritional goal, but the uneven distribution of food in the country will have the greatest impact on North Korea's poor.

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"[A]t the national level, we project that there is enough food to meet the nutritional target," Rosen told Voice of America.

"However, when consumption is allocated by income decile, 50 percent of the population does not have the purchasing power to meet the nutritional target."

The annual report is used in Washington to determine the allocation of food aid to countries in need.

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