8.7 million North Koreans need food assistance

8.7 million North Koreans need food assistance

08/12/2008

Around 40 percent of the population of the Democratic People's Republic of Korea (DPRK), an estimated 8.7 million people, mostly young children, pregnant and nursing women and the elderly, will urgently need food assistance because of an expected cereals deficit in the coming months, FAO and the World Food Programme (WFP) said in a joint report today.

Despite favourable climate conditions during the past growing season, the country's agricultural production will not meet basic food needs this year, according to the FAO/WFP Crop and Food Security Assessment Mission report.

The joint mission visited the DPRK from 9-24 October 2008; it was the first such comprehensive field assessment mission since 2004. "DPRK will face a severe food situation over the coming months," said Henri Josserand, Chief of the FAO Global Information and Early Warning System.

"Despite good weather and hard work by farmers and many city dwellers, they could not overcome critical shortages of fertilizer and fuel. The prospects for next year are bleak, with a substantial deficit of basic foods that will only partly be covered by commercial imports and anticipated food aid."