Number of Undernourished N. Koreans More Than Doubled

Korea Times

The number of undernourished people in North Korea has more than doubled over the past decade with a diminishing dietary energy supply despite the country’s increased food production, the Yonhap News Agency said Friday citing a Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO) report.

FAO said in its annual report in Rome on Wednesday that it estimated the number of undernourished in North Korea at 7.9 million for 2001-2003, more than twice as many as the 3.6 million recorded for 1990-1992.

The dietary energy supply, measured in daily calorie intake per person, dropped to 2,150 in 2001-2003 from 2,470 in 1990-1992, marking a 1.25 percent decrease, according to the report.

The proportion of undernourished subsequently grew from 18 percent of the total population to 35 percent, the report said.

North Korea’s per capita food production, however, was growing at an annual average of 1.9 percent during the 1996-2005 period, compared to a drop of 1.8 percent from 1986 to 1995.

Yonhap, a semiofficial South Korean news agency, quoted the report as saying that the North exported $22 million worth of agricultural products in 2002-2004, accounting for 2 percent of the country’s total exports.

The figures compare with $354 million in agricultural imports during the same years, representing 17.1 percent of North Korea’s total imports.

Plagued by repeated floods and droughts, North Korea subsisted on international food donations for nearly a decade from the mid-1990s. But the U.N. World Food Program (WFP), the main coordinator of the donations, was told to leave the country, which claimed it was producing a bumper crop and receiving aid outside of the U.N. relief agency.

The WFP curtailed much of its presence and activities in the North last year as a result.

Yonhap quoted FAO’s report as stating that North Korea has been the biggest recipient of food aid in recent years and still receives more than 1.1 million tons of grain equivalents per year on average. This equaled 31 percent of the country’s total cereal production in 2002 and 22 percent in 2003.

The report said the number of undernourished in South Korea stayed the same at 800,000 in 1990-1992 and 2001-2003, with the dietary energy supply increasing 0.12 percent between the two periods.


Comments are closed.