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North Korea short 860,000 tons of food this year, U.N. agency says

North Korea’s agricultural output declined in 2020 during the coronavirus pandemic, the Food and Agriculture Organization said in a new report Tuesday. File Photo by Stephen Shaver/UPI
North Korea’s agricultural output declined in 2020 during the coronavirus pandemic, the Food and Agriculture Organization said in a new report Tuesday. File Photo by Stephen Shaver/UPI | License Photo

June 15 (UPI) -- North Korea is short 860,000 tons of food, and the situation could get worse in August, according to the United Nations.

The Food and Agriculture Organization said Tuesday in its report, Food Supply and Demand Outlook in 2020/21, that the country has formal plans to import 205,000 tons of food. Aggregate food crop production is expected to reach about 5.6 million tons. The food supply may be insufficient for the population.

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"The uncovered food gap is estimated at about 860,000 tons, equivalent to approximately 2.3 months of food use," the report said.

The FAO said despite floods and typhoons that wiped out crops, North Korea engaged in expanded planting in 2020, "which mostly offset yield losses due to floods and storms."

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Production of rice, a major staple in the country, was 10% below the five-year average, with the steepest drop in output reported in South Pyongan, South and North Hwanghae, North and South Hamgyong Provinces. The regions account for about 60% of the country's rice output, the Food and Agriculture Organization said.

Corn, another key source of food, is estimated to have reached 2.2 million tons, closer to the five-year average than other crops. Soybean production was slightly above average at 230,000 tons, the agency said.

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The estimate from the agriculture organization comes after a report from South Korea's Korea Development Institute, which forecasted similar numbers.

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KDI had said in June even if North Korea imports 200,000 to 300,000 tons of grain and requests anywhere from 100,000 to 300,000 tons of food from U.N. agencies, the country still will be short 700,000 tons to 1 million tons of food this year.

North Korea's border with China remains shut, Kyodo News reported Sunday.

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