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Following Intense Drought And 'Very Bad Harvest, North Korea Faces Food Shortages


09/14/2017


Following Intense Drought And 'Very Bad Harvest, North Korea Faces Food Shortages
Despite recent relief from an intense dry spell, North Koreans are likely to face serious food shortages, said officials from the UN Food and Agricultural Organization.
 
Cereal production in the communist dictatorship had plunged to record lows in 2001 due to low rainfall and this year the rainfall was "considerably lower" than a corresponding period in 2001, the UN said in a July report. In the worst-hit regions this year, an estimated 20 percent of herd animals have also reportedly been severely affected.
 
food shortages in the country could be exacerbated and this year's overall agricultural yield could be threatened by the worst dry conditions, which ran from April to June. The main source of nutrition for North Korea's population — many of whom are already underfed comprises of cereals, potato and soybeans, the report said.
 
"They are facing a very bad harvest. And with the latest sanctions, [Kim] won't be able to pay in credit for his oil imports anymore."-Mark Matthews, head of research for Asia, Julius Baer
 
The average North Korean consumes approximately 1,640 calories of food each day, the UN estimates even before taking the drought into account. In comparison, the U.S. Department of Health has recommended 2,000 calories for Americans.
 
Mario Zappacosta, senior economist at the UN said that the shift in precipitation will be insufficient to reverse the adverse effects of the drought even though rainfall has improved over large parts of the country since August.
 
He said that by the time rain fell, "the optimal planting period was over … and the early planted crops were already affected by the drought". According to the UN report, critical for crop development are the months of April to June.
 
Zappacosta added that compared with 2016, it is expected that North Korea's overall yields for the 2017 "main season" crops — those harvested around September and October will fall.
 
Still, according to Cristina Coslet, country monitor at the UN Food and Agricultural Organization, crop output is unlikely to fall to the unprecedentedly low levels in 2000 to 2001.
 
Unfavorable weather conditions are likely to severely hurt Pyongyang's economy in conjunction with the latest round of UN sanctions, which aim to pressure North Korean leader Kim Jong Un into giving up his nuclear weapons.
 
"They are facing a very bad harvest. And with the latest sanctions, [Kim] won't be able to pay in credit for his oil imports anymore," said Mark Matthews, head of research for Asia at Switzerland-based private bank Julius Baer.
 
Matthews added that in exchange for aid from China or the United States,Kim would do well to pause his weapons testing in exchange.
 
Scheduled to be completed by mid-October, North Korea is currently harvesting its main-season crops. Coslet said that to determine its final production estimates for the country the UN agency will await until then. That time will not be before October, he added.
 
Despite increasing sanctions imposed by the UN, hinting at Pyongyang's increasing reliance on Beijing Chinese food exports to North Korea have soared over the past year.
 
(Source:www.cnbc.com)