Water scarcity in DPR Korea causes first drop in food production since 2010 – UN agency

27 April 2016

The total food production in the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea (DPRK) decreased by nine per cent in 2015, marking the first drop since 2010 due to drought and low irrigation water availability, the latest report from the United Nations Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO) showed today.

“The dropping production was the result of poor rains during the cropping season,” Cristina Coslet, FAO Country Monitor, said in a video interview, adding that “low availabilities of irrigation water following recurrent dry spells also in the previous year compounded the situation.”

Paddy rice and maize, being the country’s main staple and its second most crucial crop, have reduced by more than one fourth to 1.9 million tonnes and three per cent to 2.29 million tonnes in 2015, according to the latest data by FAO's Global Information and Early Warning System.

Moreover, an uncovered deficit of 394,000 out of 694,000 tonnes cereal import target represents the highest gap since 2011/12.

“This situation is of particular concern as the public distribution systems rations, which are the main source of food for around eight million [people in DPR Korea] have been decreased considerably since July 2015,” Ms. Coslet stressed.

However, the report also noted about a one third increase of drought-resistant soybeans and a triple harvest of other cereals such as sorghum, millet and buckwheat.

Expressing concern over tight food supplies and deteriorating food security, the UN agency is offering immediate technical support as well as long-term risk prevention and mitigation guidance.

“FAO is providing the most-affected farms located in the north and south provinces with essential agricultural inputs such as fertilizers and seeds as well as equipment such as water pumps, said Ms. Coslet, adding that it will help “farmers to cope with future shocks for planning and provide training in risk reduction management.”

 

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