North Korea faces worst food shortage since famine of 2001

By RJ Whitehead

- Last updated on GMT

North Korea will face its worst drought in over 15 years if rains do not improve soon, the Food and Agriculture Organisation has warned.

In a special alert, the UN agency advised that prolonged dry weather in spring in the main cereal‐producing provinces has raised serious concerns about staple crop production.

"Should drought conditions persist, the food security situation is likely to further deteriorate​,” the alert added.

North Korea has been blighted by poor harvests and famines since the late Nineties, when at least 2m people died from malnutrition. The UN's World Food Programme estimates 70% of the country's 25m people still do not eat a "sufficiently diverse diet​."

From April until late June rainfall in some of the key cereal-growing regions was half the long-term average.

The severe dry spell also affected this year’s early-season crops, which include wheat, barley and potatoes. According to FAO's latest estimates, production of these has plunged by over 30%, from last year's level of 450,000 tonnes to 310,000 tonnes.

Despite the fact that the early season harvest accounts for only 10% of the total annual cereal production, these crops are an important source of food during the lean season from May to September.

"Seasonal rainfall in main cereal-producing areas has been below the level of 2001, when cereal production dropped to the unprecedented level of only 2m tonnes​," Vincent Martin, the FAO’s representative in China and North Korea, said.

The UN organisation has called for immediate assistance for the country's population, including irrigation equipment and food aid.

"It is recommended to introduce longer-term measures to increase farm and household resilience to natural disasters and climate change​," the alert said, referring to North Korea's susceptibility to flooding.

Related news

Related product


Let them eat plutonium

Posted by crosspatch,

End of message

Report abuse

USA should provide assistance

Posted by Eldon Roush,

Now would be the time for the USA to help N. Korea with food and technical assistance as a goodwill gesture. How could N. Korea then bite the hand that feed them? Even the GOOD BOOK says to feed your enemy!

Report abuse

Post your comment

We will not publish your email address on the website

These comments have not been moderated. You are encouraged to participate with comments that are relevant to our news stories. You should not post comments that are abusive, threatening, defamatory, misleading or invasive of privacy. For the full terms and conditions for commenting see clause 7 of our Terms and Conditions ‘Participating in Online Communities’. These terms may be updated from time to time, so please read them before posting a comment. Any comment that violates these terms may be removed in its entirety as we do not edit comments. If you wish to complain about a comment please use the "REPORT ABUSE" button or contact the editors.

Follow us

Featured Events

View more


View more