Press Release 97/15

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Press Release 97/15


More agricultural inputs are needed to rehabilitate arable lands in flood affected areas

ROME, 21 April -- The UN Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO) is appealing to the international community to fund six projects for a total value of more than $ 14.3 million to help the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea restore and enhance its ability to produce sufficient quantities of food after three years of poor agricultural production, FAO announced today.

The projects, in the framework of the UN inter-agency consolidated appeal launched on 7 April 1997, include increase of agricultural output and diversification through double cropping ($ 4 million), recovery of irrigation systems ($ 3.3 million), rehabilitation of irrigated canals ($ 3 million), cereal production ($ 1.6 million), rice growing ($ 1.5 million) and vegetable production ($ 920 000). In addition, $ 263 000 is also needed from donors to help FAO provide additional technical assistance and coordination.

The UN inter-agency consolidated appeal for flood-related emergency humanitarian assistance to DPRK addresses urgent needs resulting from the effect of the unprecedented flooding in 1995 and 1996. One of its main priorities is to assist the country resume normal food production.

Through its Service for Special Relief Operations, FAO is currently providing technical assistance for the monitoring of an important double cropping programme launched for the first time by the Government to help farmers increase output of cereals and other foodstuff.

The double cropping of cereals consists of planting spring barley in the low and upland arable areas from March to June to be followed by planting of the main summer crops of rice and maize.

The programme aims at sowing an area of 50 000 hectares with spring barley, 15 000 hectares (30%) to be planted on paddy fields and 35 000 hectares (70%) on dry land areas. Out of the targeted 50 000 hectares, 32 700 hectares have been planted with the inputs provided by the international community.

So far, donors have provided 6 540 tons of barley seeds and, through FAO and UNDP, some 1 800 tons of fertilizer were delivered between mid-February and end of March 1997. In addition to FAO and UNDP contributions, donors supporting the double cropping programme include the European Union, Switzerland, Norway, Médecins Sans Frontières, Action Churches Together and the International Federation of the Red Cross and Red Crescent Societies.

“Under the present circumstances, the double cropping programme is certainly to be implemented for the coming years. This will also reduce the need for continued food aid,” according to FAO consultant Jan Charles Driessen, who just returned from a technical assistance mission to DPRK.

“People are suffering from food shortage and since early March 1997, food rations have been reduced to 100 grams of rice a day against a normal ration of 500 grams,” Mr. Driessen said.

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