North Korea had the worst harvest of over ten years in 2018, according to the UN. Last year, 500,000 tonnes less food was produced in the country than the year before.
The reason for the low food production is natural disasters combined with inefficient agriculture and lack of land to produce food, the UN said in a statement Wednesday.
Last year, 4.95 million tonnes of food was produced in the country, a decrease of 500,000 tonnes from 2017. According to the UN representative in North Korea, Tapan Mishra, it is the lowest in over a decade.
– This has resulted in significant food shortages, says Mishra. The figures come from a UN report that assesses the country’s need for 2019.
10.9 million need food aid
The closed country has a weak economy and has long had major problems in obtaining food for its citizens. Last year, UN emergency relief manager Mark Lowcock was visiting the country and later said he saw “clear evidence” of the distress in North Korea.
Lower food production has led to an increase in the number of people needing food aid. 10.9 million North Koreans need humanitarian aid, which is 600,000 more people the year before, according to the UN. This corresponds to about 43 per cent of the population.
While the number of people in need of help is rising, the UN has had to cut the target for how many they can help from 6 million to 3.8 million. The reason is money shortage.
According to Mishra, aid to North Korea is “one of the lowest funded on earth”. He says sanctions have created unintended delays and challenges for humanitarian programs, even though such assistance is exempt from UN sanctions against the country.
Last month, North Korea sent a statement to the United Nations that it is likely to produce 1.4 million tonnes less food in 2019 compared to last year.