Press Release 97/32
UN FOOD AGENCIES ALARMED AT CATASTROPHIC IMPACT OF DROUGHT AND TYPHOON ON
NORTH KOREA’S CROPS
ROME, 12 September -- The United Nations food agencies today expressed “very serious
alarm” over food shortages in the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea (North Korea)
where drought and a destructive typhoon have aggravated the effects of two years
“These catastrophic events will undoubtedly have serious and long reaching repercussions
in the country’s already grave food supply situation,” the Food and Agriculture Organization
(FAO) and World Food Programme (WFP) warned in a report on a mission to North Korea.
North Korea will now have to depend to an even greater extent on international
assistance for food, agricultural rehabilitation and vital inputs of seed and fertilizers.
“Without these interventions the human consequences are likely to be dire,” the
The mission, which visited North Korea 16-26 August, said drought has devastated
crops throughout the country. Typhoon Winnie caused extensive damage last month to
rice in coastal areas in the west where tidal waves destroyed dikes and seawater
“Guarded optimism expressed earlier for some recovery in food production this year
is now replaced by very serious alarm at food security prospects for the coming months
and year ahead,” the report said.
In preliminary estimates, pending the visit of another FAO/WFP mission to North
Korea in connection with next month’s harvest, the report said the country could
lose 1.25 million tons of maize even if there is adequate rainfall this month. With
rain, the rice crop could be down by 342,000 tons, without rain by 630,000 tons.
“Imports from commercial channels are likely to become increasingly strained due
to growing and chronic economic difficulties and the lack of foreign exchange,” the
“As the general health of the population has now already been highly weakened by
the shortage of adequate food in recent years, especially amongst vulnerable groups,
the anticipated shortfall this year is likely to have far-reaching implications that
go beyond the devastation of 1995 and 1996.”
WFP, which has been providing emergency food aid to North Korea since 1995, has
appealed for donations of US$144.1 million to provide the country with 333,200 tons
of food during the period between April 1997 and March 1998. Contributions as of
1 September totalled 322,500 tons or 97 percent of the appeal.
The food is being distributed to 2.6 million children aged 6 or younger, some 250,000
farmers and workers and their 850,000 dependants taking part in flood rehabilitation
projects and up to one million hospital patients.
The UN agencies say the ability of North Korea to provide adequate food to its population
continues to be hampered by two basic facts: the resources it has available to produce
food domestically and the ability of the economy to provide inputs for agriculture
and supplement the food supply with imports when there are production shortfalls.
According to the FAO/WFP report, future food security in the country depends as
much on general economic performance as on efforts to increase output in agriculture.
For further information, please contact:
Trevor Rowe, WFP/Rome
Tel. (+396) 6513-2602
John Riddle, FAO/Rome
Tel. (+396) 5705-3259