FAO in North America

New report on North Korean food security

Submitted by Teresa Buerkle on November 12, 2012

A new FAO/WFP report estimates that while there has been an increase in staple food production in the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea for the second year running, the country continues to face an ongoing struggle with undernutrition and a lack of vital protein and fat in the diet, especially for an estimated 2.8 million vulnerable people.

The assessment team visited all nine agricultural provinces in late September/early October, around the main annual cereal harvest.

Of particular concern to the mission was a 30 per cent decline in soybean production, as well as the limited quantity of vegetables available, perpetuating a chronic lack of key proteins, oils, fats, vitamins and micronutrients in most diets. Soybean production was the primary victim of a prolonged dry spell in the first half of the 2012 main agricultural season. The impact of the dry spell on the maize harvest was largely mitigated by irrigation, as people were mobilized on a huge scale to water crops by hand.

“The country needs to produce more protein-rich foods like soybean and fish and to put more effort into growing two crops a year so a more varied diet is available for everyone,” said Kisan Gunjal, FAO economist and co-leader of the mission.

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