11 December 2003, Rome --
Hunger and undernourishment could rise in North Korea in 2004 if
projects to produce food are not being funded, FAO warned in a
statement issued today.
consequences of not funding the FAO appeal for agricultural
projects amounting to $3.5 million could be disastrous for
around 1.8 million people living in rural areas," said
Michael Stapleton, FAO programme coordinator in the Democratic
People's Republic of Korea.
"Increasing agricultural production could
partly reduce the needs for food aid," he said.
For the next spring/summer season, funds
are urgently needed to increase crop and vegetable production
and reduce post-harvest losses. This would help to alleviate
food shortages during the lean period from August to October.
The main cereal crops in the country are
rice and maize. These are planted during summer, with double
cropping of winter wheat followed by spring barley and potatoes.
This planting pattern is known as 'Double Cropping',
which has led to increased food availability and better
nutrition in the lean season.
Double cropping at risk
Donor support would enable farmers to continue the
double cropping programme, carried out successfully by FAO since
Double cropping is applied on some
220 000 hectares, about 18 percent of the agricultural fields.
It has led to production increases of about 15 percent. The
success of double cropping is however heavily relying on inputs
such as mineral fertilizers, Stapleton said.
"FAO has been providing hundreds, often
thousands of tonnes of fertilizers in the past years. These
amounts are important, because they supplement larger quantities
of bilateral fertilizer donations, which sometimes are
uncertain," he said.
would also permit FAO to continue Integrated Pest Management, to
protect crops from diseases by applying less pesticides and more
environmentally-friendly methods. FAO also intends to promote
organic soil fertility programmes, aimed at reducing the use of
Post-harvest losses for
rice are estimated at more than 15 percent, primarily due to
unreliable power supply at threshing centres. FAO is planning to
reduce post-harvest losses by re-equipping 50 farm cooperatives
with simple threshing machines.
families are facing the problem of storing potato seeds.
Considerable amounts of seeds have been lost due to temperatures
below zero in winter. Farms currently store potato seeds in
their homes. FAO intends to support the construction of
According to a
recent FAO report, North Korea's 2003/04 cereal production
is forecast at 4.16 million tonnes, the best harvest over the
last nine years. Despite agricultural recovery over the last
three years, domestic production still falls well below the
minimum food needs.
North Korea will again
have to depend on substantial external food assistance. The
cereal deficit in 2003/04 (November/October) is estimated at 944
Some 6.5 million vulnerable
people will require food aid next year. Malnourishment in the
Democratic People's Republic of Korea is especially
widespread among children.
Information Officer, FAO
(+39) 06 570