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Dagyum Ji is a senior NK News correspondent based in Seoul. She previously worked for Reuters TV.
The North Korean government has decreased food rations by 100 grams per day per person in the wake of a fall in crop harvest caused by drought, the UN Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs (UNOCHA) reported on Monday.
“As in previous years, the dry spell coincided with the lean period,” the UNOCHA said in a report entitled “Asia and the Pacific: Weekly Regional Humanitarian Snapshot from 18 to 24 July 2017.”
“And as a consequence, government rations, of which 70% of the population rely, recently dropped to 300 grams per person per day from 400g.”
Food rationing “is still well below” the North’s stated target of 573 per day per person, the agency added, and 300 grams represents only 50 percent of the UN-recommended amount of 600 grams a day.
UN World Food Program (WFP) said on July 19 that rations provided by the DPRK government’s Public Distribution System (PDS) in June were “reported at an average of 400g of cereals per person per day” in the “WFP DPR Korea Country Brief June 2017″ report.
The news follows an announcement by UN Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO) on July 20 that the North’s crop production for 2017 “has been severely damaged by prolonged dry weather conditions” and that the North was going through “the worst drought in the country since 2001.”
The lack of rain from April to June in key crop-producing areas in the North had been “well below the long-term average” and had damaged the “2017 main season crops”, it added, saying the below average precipitation was expected to “have a serious impact” on major cereal producing areas.
“Around 30% of early crops have been lost due to the dry spell that has struck the country,” the UNOCHA said in Monday’s report. “These crops constitute 10% of the overall harvest.”
“Rain began this month which is important for the main crops, but given the reliance on agriculture any loss has negative impact on vulnerable communities’ food security and nutrition.”
In late June, the Rodong Sinmun, an organ of the ruling Workers’ Party of Korea (WPK) reported that the country was engaged in “prevention battles” against what was referred to as an “abysmal drought.”
The report said the drought had been going since May.
On July 11, North Koreans were called on by state media to prevent crop damage caused by potential floods while also working to mitigate the effects of the drought.
In the report “Asia and the Pacific: Weekly Regional Humanitarian Snapshot from 27 June to 3 July 2017”, the UNOCHA reported that average precipitation had fallen by up to 80 percent in some regions since January.
The drought has affected an estimated 50,000 hectares of arable land, and the UN agency said yields of some crops in affected areas were “expected to decrease between 30 to 50 percent compared to last year.”
Edited by Oliver Hotham
Featured Image: UN Photo