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North Korea urges citizens to become 'water pumps' amid drought

North Korean state media reported Monday that soil was drying out across the country. File Photo by Stephen Shaver/UPI
North Korean state media reported Monday that soil was drying out across the country. File Photo by Stephen Shaver/UPI | License Photo

July 26 (UPI) -- North Korean farmers could be reeling from the impact of record-high temperatures as extreme weather takes a toll on crops.

Korean Workers' Party newspaper Rodong Sinmun reported Monday the country had received less than an inch of rain by mid-July, the second-lowest rainfall since 1981.

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The paper said daytime temperatures began to exceed 97.7 degrees Fahrenheit starting Tuesday. Hot and dry weather is "impeding the growth of rice" and "drying out corn leaves," North Korean media said.

The Rodong also reported soils were drying out at a depth of 2 to 8 inches across the country, including in Sohung County in North Hwanghae Province, Junggang and Jasong Counties in Jagang Province, Kosong, and Anbyon Counties in Kangwon Province and Hongwon and Sinhung Counties in South Hamgyong Province.

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The newspaper urged citizens to respond to the worsening food situation.

"We need a worker constantly contemplating the issues the Party is concerned about, and taking great pains over them," the Rodong said.

The newspaper said North Koreans must be willing to "pour the water of life into socialist farming cooperatives, even if it means they themselves become the water pump or the water bag."

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North Korea's food situation could be troubling Kim Jong Un. Last month the leader said the condition of agriculture was "tense" and that the sector had "failed to fulfill its grain production plan" due to typhoon damage last year.

South Korea is monitoring changes in the North.

Seoul's unification ministry spokeswoman Lee Jong-joo said Monday it is likely North Korea's grain production would be "greatly affected by typhoons, floods and droughts" this month and the next, Newsis reported.

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"We intend to continue judging and analyzing the food situation in North Korea comprehensively," Lee said.

Earlier this month the Food and Agriculture Organization said North Korea is expected to face a food shortage of about 860,000 tons this year.

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