Medical

N. Korea food production down in 2018: UN body

SEOUL, Food production has fallen this year in isolated, nucleararmed North Korea, according to the UN's Food and Agriculture Organization.

Rice and maize are the North's main staples, but rice output was expected

to be below average because of erratic rains and low irrigation supplies, the

FAO said in its quarterly Crop Prospects and Food Situation report.

Unfavourable weather conditions also diminished maize yields, it added.

As a result the country would need to import 641,000 tonnes of food in the

coming year, up from 456,000 tonnes this year, when it bought 390,000 tonnes

and received 66,000 tonnes in food aid.

There was a widespread lack of access to food in the North, it said in the

document.

Food insecurity continues to remain a key concern, with conditions

aggravated by the belowaverage 2018 main season output, it said.

Agricultural production is chronically poor in the North, which only has a

limited supply of arable land.

The country has periodically been hit by famine, and hundreds of thousands

of people died � estimates range into the millions � in the mid1990s.

North Korea was one of 40 countries � 31 of them in Africa � listed as

in need of external assistance for food in the report.

UN agencies estimate that 10.3 million people in the North need

humanitarian assistance. But donor funding has dried up in the face of

political tensions over its weapons programmes, with critics saying that the

provision of aid encourages Pyongyang to prioritise its military ambitions

over adequately providing for its people.

David Beasley, the head of the UN's World Food Programme, said in May that

there was undoubtedly a hunger problem in North Korea but it was not on the

scale of the 1990s famine.

Source: Bangladesh Sangbad Sangstha (BSS)