PR 97/56

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Press Release 97/56

UN MISSION TO MAKE NEW ASSESSMENT OF
NORTH KOREA'S GRAVE FOOD CRISIS AND
FOOD PROSPECTS FOR 1998


Rome, October 23 - A new United Nations mission leaves today for the Democratic People's Republic of Korea (North Korea) to assess the outcome of this year's harvest and evaluate food supply prospects and food aid needs for 1998 following the damaging drought and serious storm this summer.

The mission, mounted jointly by the UN Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO) and the World Food Programme (WFP), is the latest in a series sent to North Korea since the country's agriculture was devastated by floods in 1995. This year serious drought hit the country in the crucial growing months from June to August, and Typhoon Winnie in late August breached sea defences and caused damaging floods.

The last joint FAO/WFP Crop and Food Supply Assessment Mission in August this year advocated urgent international assistance for North Korea in the form of food, agricultural rehabilitation and vital inputs of seed and fertilizers. "Without these interventions the human consequences are likely to be dire," the mission said.

The report said the food outlook for 1998 was considerably worse than that of the previous two years of disasters. Domestic production of cereals, even under the most optimistic scenario, would cover less than half the country's minimum food needs, while imports from commercial channels were likely to become increasingly strained due to growing and chronic economic difficulties and the lack of foreign exchange.

The new mission will estimate the size of this year's harvest, assess prospects for food supply in 1998 and estimate the country's food import requirements, including food aid, next year. 


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