Archive for the ‘2013 food shortage’ Category

UN WFP inaugurates new biscuit factory in Phyongsong

Monday, October 21st, 2013

According to the UN WFP web page:

A new factory in Pyongson [sic] City brings to 14 the total number of facilities producing fortified foods for WFP programmes in DPR Korea.

On the occasion of World Food Day (16 October), WFP has opened a new factory to produce nutritious biscuits in DPR Korea. Fortified foods, produced in 14 factories all over the country, are the backbone of WFP’s efforts to address undernutririon and fight hunger in the country for some 1.6 million women and children every month.

Speaking at the opening ceremony, Country Director Dierk Stegen said: “WFP is committed to fighting hunger worldwide. In DPRK, we work in close partnership with the government to reduce hunger and undernutrition in young children and their mothers by providing locally produced foods that are enriched with vitamins and minterals.”

Improved Efficiency
The Pyongsong Biscuit Production Line is replacing an existing biscuit factory in Haeju, as the equipment of that production line has become too old and too costly to replace. The Pyongsong Factory is strategically located, with a railway connection to Nampo port and easier access to nearby counties. The new factory will improve production efficiency, save transport costs and minimize the transport time of delivering the nutritious biscuits to 231,000 children at nurseries, kindergartens and schools in 12 counties.

Government Partnership
WFP and the Government of DPR Korea have been working together to produce nutritious foods enriched with vitamins and minerals in country since 1998. The Government contributes the factory infrastructure, staff support, and maintenance, utilities and overhead costs associated with the production, while WFP provides raw materials, spare parts, technical training and oversight of production and distribution.

Funding Needs
The Pyongson Biscuit Factory has the capacity to produce up to 294 metric tons of fortified biscuits every month – but this is dependent on contributions from donors. Currently, funding levels are such that production will cease at the end of February. For the next 12 months WFP needs to source US$80million to continue its work to provide assistance to the most vulnerable children and women in DPK Korea.

Story submitted by Liu Xuerong, Head of Programme, WFP DPRK


Recent DPRK agricultural statistics

Wednesday, October 2nd, 2013

According to Yonhap, the DPRK’s food imports increased over the summer:

North Korea’s crop imports from China rose 16.5 percent in August from the previous month, data showed Tuesday, indicating stability in food supply for people in the impoverished nation.

According to the data compiled by Kwon Tae-jin, a researcher at the Korea Rural Economic Institute, North Korea imported 26,804 tons of grains such as flour, rice, corn and bean in August from its neighboring country, compared with 22,988 tons a month earlier.

The North spent a total of US$15.4 million to buy the crops that month, the largest monthly spending for the year, the data showed.

August also marked the seventh consecutive month that the North’s crop imports topped 20,000 tons.

“Since February, the North has imported more than 20,000 tons of crops per month from its strongest ally,” Kwon said.

“Factoring in the forecast of good harvests for the autumn thanks to good weather conditions, the North is expected to enjoy a relatively stable supply of crops at least for the rest of the year,” he added.

Meanwhile, North Korea’s fertilizer imports from China totaled 183,639 tons in the January-August period, down 27.1 percent from the same period a year earlier, according to the data.

North Korea’s domestic food production is also apparently higher. According to Yonhap:

North Korea’s grain harvest is expected to grow about 8 percent this year from 2012 thanks to relatively favorable weather conditions, a source with the knowledge of food situation in the communist nation said Wednesday.

The North is estimated to produce as much as 5.3 million tons of grains this year, a 7.7 percent increase from 4.92 million tons last year, the source said on the condition of anonymity.

This year’s estimated grain harvest roughly meets with the North’s annual demand of 5.4 million tons. The annual demand was calculated by South Korea’s state-run Korea Rural Economic Institute.

“Grain harvest in North Korea this year is much better than last year because there were no big natural disasters, except for heavy rains in July this year,” the source said.

Despite the positive assessments of the DPRK’s food supply, the UN warns more food assistance is needed. According to Yonhap:

North Korea remains one of the 34 countries in the world that require external assistance to properly feed their people, a media report said Friday.

The Voice of America said the October issue of Crop Prospects and Food Situation by the Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO) estimated that there will be some 2.8 million “vulnerable” people in the communist country needing assistance until this year’s fall harvest.

The Washington-based media outlet said that judging by official estimates tallied by the United Nations organization, Pyongyang’s spring cereal harvest for 2013, mainly winter, wheat and barley, fell shy of the initial forecast, and that this is the main reason for the current shortage.

The country had reported improved harvests in the fall of 2012.

The U.N. agency also said people in the country are experiencing “widespread lack of access” to food caused in part by past floods.

The latest findings added that overall conditions in the North have not changed vis-a-vis July when the last food situation report was released.

At the time, the North was the only country in East Asia to be placed on the list requiring external aid. Others on the list of the 34 countries were in Africa and Central Asia.

The FAO, meanwhile, estimated that the North has been able to secure 328,000 tons of various grain from November of 2012 to early last month. This is equal to 65 percent of the 507,000 tons of grain Pyongyang needs to properly feed its population.

Read the full stories here:
N. Korea’s crop imports from China up 16 pct in Aug.

N. Korea’s grain harvest seen improving: source

N. Korea needs external aid to feed its people: report


UN WFP and FAO Report food shortages

Sunday, August 18th, 2013

According to Yonahp (via Global Post):

Eight out of 10 North Korean people are suffering from food shortages this year, with nearly 20 percent of children younger than five severely malnourished, a report by the U.N. food body has said.

According to the quarterly report the World Food Program (WFP) published on its assistance project for the communist country, 81 percent out of 115 households there were found to be in the category of “poor food consumption” or fall in the category between having adequate and poor food consumption in the second quarter of this year.

Of the surveyed, 76 percent coped with the crisis either by relying on support from others or eating cheaper food. Some 14 percent reduced their portions with 3 percent skipping meals, the report showed.

Thanks to Pyongyang’s increased food rations and the international organization’s aid, things have improved from a year earlier when 87 percent of the people surveyed suffered from shortages, according to the report.

The WFP’s earlier report showed that the North Korean government is providing more food rations to its people in 2013 than the previous year despite a drop in overseas aid. In the communist country, 66 percent of the total population, or about 16 million people, receive state food rations.

The agency, however, said the situation “remains fragile,” with the frequency of protein consumption “very low and unlikely meeting requirements.”

The WFP also said its visit to 120 pediatric hospitals found that 17 percent of the children under the age of five admitted to suffering from acute malnutrition.

Of the children admitted to hospitals, some 88 percent suffered from diarrhea, followed by 82 percent showing symptoms of respiratory infections and 49 percent indigestion, the report showed.

The WFP said it reached 1.46 million beneficiaries each month during the second quarter of the year, distributing a total of 10,489 metric tons of food. It also conducted 764 rounds of field visits to ensure its assistance arrived and was utilized properly.

According to Yonhap (via Global Post):

North Korea’s food procurement effort has been inadequate to cover the expected shortfall for this year, a media report based on data provided by an international agriculture agency said Friday.

The quarterly report by the Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations showed Pyongyang has been able to secure 290,600 tons of various grains from abroad from November 2012 through June of this year, the Voice of America (VOA) said.

The Washington-based media outlet said the total is equal to just 57 percent of the 507,000 tons the North needs to secure by October to prevent a food shortage for its people.

The latest findings come a day after the World Food Program (WFP) claimed eight out of 10 North Koreans are suffering from food shortages this year, with nearly 20 percent of children younger than five severely malnourished.

The percentage of people suffering food shortages, however, fell from 87 percent tallied the year before, the WFP said.

Despite the risk of shortage, the North has been able to increase its daily food rations for its people in the first seven months of this year to 397 grams per person, up 14 grams from the year before.

North Korea watchers also said that with Pyongyang placing emphasis on strengthening its agricultural sector, there have been some improvements in food conditions in the country compared to the past.

As per usual, the articles provided neither the titles of the reports nor links. Many UN reports on the DPRK can be found on my DPRK Economic Statistics Page.

The UN is appealing for funding for its DPRK relief programs. According to Yonhap:

The United Nations on Thursday appealed for US$98 million from the international community to help North Koreans in need, saying its humanitarian projects there are drastically underfunded.

Of the overall funding requirement of $150 million for 2013, $98 million is still urgently needed for food and agricultural support, health and nutrition, water and sanitation, according to the global body.

“While the overall humanitarian situation has improved slightly over the last 12 months, the structural causes of people’s vulnerability persist,” U.N. Resident Coordinator Ghulam Isaczai said in an emailed statement. “External assistance continues to play a vital role in safeguarding the lives of millions whose food security, nutritional status and essential health needs would otherwise be seriously compromised.”

Around 16 million people of the 24 million population are chronically short on food, his office said.

For cereal alone, the cereal for the 2012-13 marketing year is estimated at 507,000 metric tons, with serious gaps remaining between recommended and actual nutrient intake, widely due also to a lack of dietary diversity, it said.

“Without sustained humanitarian support, the gains made the past 10 years in improving food security and the overall health and nutrition of the most vulnerable — children, pregnant and nursing mothers, and the elderly — could be quickly reversed,” said Isaczai.

He urged U.N. member states to draw a line between political and humanitarian issues, as efforts to denuclearize North Korea have been stalled for years.

“We hope that donors will respond quickly and generously to allow U.N. agencies to address the humanitarian situation,” he said. “Separating humanitarian needs from political issues is a prerequisite for a sustainable improvement in the condition of people.”

Read the full stories here:
80 pct of N. Koreans suffer food shortages: WFP
Yonahp (via Global Post)

N. Korea food procurement effort inadequate to cover shortfalls: report
Yonhap (via Global Post)


PDS distribution up in 2013

Wednesday, August 7th, 2013

According to the Daily NK:

The volume of food distributed under the North Korean Public Distribution System in the first half of 2013 increased when compared to 2012, Radio Free Asia (RFA) reported on the 6th.

According to North Korean submissions to the UN World Food Programme (WFP), the North Korean authorities provided 400g/day between January to May and 390g/day in June and July, a monthly average of 397g/day. This is a 14g increase on last year’s average of 383g/day.

According to the statistics, 66% of the total population of North Korea, around 16 million people, received state distribution of basic foodstuffs. Last year, 400g/day was achieved in April, the 100th anniversary of Kim Il Sung’s birth, but not in any other month.

Conversely, WFP reported that international food aid volumes to North Korea decreased in the first half of 2013. WFP began a new food aid operation for the country last month, but has since failed to reach half of its target support volume.

Last month, WFP supplied approximately 2900t of food to around 940,000 people, including more than 40,000 flood victims. This compares with 3400 tons of food to more than 1,310,000 people in the previous month.

Daily NK has reported on public food distribution on a number of occasions in 2013, noting in particular that the North Korean authorities distributed some stocks of rice ordinarily intended for wartime distribution.

Yonhap also covered the story.

Read the full article here:
PDS Distribution Volumes Rise in 2013
Daily NK
Jin Dong Hyuk


DPRK imports of Chinese grain in 2013

Monday, July 29th, 2013

UPDATE 1 (2013-7-29): DPRK imports of Chinese grain drop 8.4% in the first half of 2013. According to Yonhap:

North Korea’s imports of Chinese grain fell 8.4 percent on-year in the first half of 2013 mainly due to a better harvest last fall, a report said Monday.

The report by the Korea Rural Economic Institute (KREI) showed Pyongyang’s imports of flour, rice, corn and other grain products reaching 124,228 tons in the January-June period, compared with 135,648 tons a year earlier.

The state-run institute said that while the country imported more than 20,000 tons of grain on average from February onward, last year’s better harvest and overall improvements in food supply conditions led to the first-half decline.

“Overall, import numbers indicate supply and demand of grain is very stable in North Korea,” said Kwon Tae-jin, a research fellow at KREI who compiled the report.

He said besides grain, the communist country imported 139,161 tons of chemical fertilizers from China in the first half, a drop of 35 percent from 213,871 tons purchased in the same six-month period last year.

ORIGINAL POST (2013-7-29): DPRK imports of Chinese grain fall 14.2% in 2013. According to Yonhap (via Global Post):

Imports of Chinese grain by North Korea fell 14.2 percent on-year in the first five months of 2013 mainly due to a better harvest last fall, a report said Wednesday.

The findings by the Korea Rural Economic Institute (KREI) showed Pyongyang’s imports of flour, rice, corn and other grain products reaching 101,170 tons in the January-May period, down from 117,922 tons the year before.

The institute said numbers fell sharply in May when total grain imports stood at just 21,142 tons, which represents an 18 percent drop from the previous year and an 18.2 percent decrease from April. The communist country brought in 25,850 tons of grain from its neighbor in the preceding month and 25,788 tons in May of 2012.

Kwon Tae-jin, a research fellow at KREI who compiled the report, said the sizable drop in imports was probably caused by better grain output last year, which made it unnecessary for the country to buy the commodity from China.

“It can be a sign that things have improved,” he said. The researcher also speculated that the harvest of such produce as barley, wheat and potatoes, which grow in spring, may have been better than in the past.

The experts, who checked raw data provided by the Korea International Trade Association, said the North imported 42.7 percent more chemical fertilizers in the January-May period of this year vis-a-vis the same time period in 2012.

The country brought in 129,967 tons of fertilizer from China, compared to 91,096 tons the year before. Such an increase may exert a positive effect on farm output.

Kwon said that the spike in fertilizers is a sure sign that the North is giving top priority to pushing up agricultural output.

Related to the latest data, a government source hinted that North Korea’s emphasis on agriculture may be aimed at trying to strengthen the leadership of its new leader Kim Jong-un, who took power after the sudden death of his father Kim Jong-il in late 2011.

“Unlike other economic sectors that require time, agriculture is something that can generate results in a short period of time and have immediate impact on everyday lives,” the official who declined to be identified said.

Read the full story here:
N. Korea’s imports of Chinese grain fall 14.2 pct in 2013
Yonhap (via Global Post)


UN offers DPRK flood relief

Thursday, July 18th, 2013

According to Yonhap:

The United Nations has decided to provide North Korea with US$6 million in emergency aid by the end of this year, a report said Thursday, in a bid to relieve fund shortages at U.N. agencies operating in the isolated country.

The U.N. Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs (OCHA) told the Washington-based Voice of America that U.N. bodies operating in the North will receive this aid through a pool of reserve funding known as the Central Emergency Response Fund (CERF).

The CERF was established in 2006 to provide quick assistance to countries in severe humanitarian crises. Funded by donations from governments, the private sector, foundations and individuals, it already allocated $7 million to North Korea this January in an attempt to boost humanitarian efforts in neglected countries.

Under the new plan, the six U.N. agencies operating in North Korea will negotiate with the resident coordinator of the U.N. Development Programme in Pyongyang to come up with a detailed list of expenditures, the report said.

The announcement comes after five out of the 14 food processing factories in the impoverished country were reportedly shut down in June due to grain shortages, hurting ongoing efforts to nourish people in the communist country.

As of May, OCHA said it had received just over 17 percent of the $147 million needed to operate U.N. agencies in the North this year. In 2012, it allocated a total of $12.92 million from its CERF funding to North Korea.

Read the full story here:
U.N. to send US$6 mln in emergency aid to N. Korea


DPRK food prices dropping

Tuesday, July 2nd, 2013

According to the Daily NK:

Food prices in North Korean markets have declined to their lowest point since the year began, with rice now holding steady at around 5,000won/kg in Pyongyang and 5,400won in the border city of Hyesan. The low prices appear to be a response to seasonal factors plus the ongoing distribution of a portion of wartime rice stocks.

The North Korean authorities opened wartime rice stores in March, seemingly in response to public anger at mass mobilization for military exercises that characterized the time. Distribution of food has been maintained on some level since then.

“They have been giving fifteen days of distribution to workers since March, based on the number of members in a family,” a source from Hyesan confirmed to Daily NK on the 2nd. “Most of it has been corn and the quality of the rice is poor, but they gave five and ten days of food through mid-June so life has been easier.” Ten days of food equals 4.5kg of grain for a factory worker, and 2kg for dependent family members.

A Pyongyang source confirmed the situation in the North Korean capital, saying, “We received distribution from the authorities in the middle of last month; it was mostly made up of new potatoes. Since then there has been a lot of grain on the market so the price of rice has fallen, and it has been in the low 5000s ever since.”

According to inside sources, the price of rice was in the 5,600-7,000won range from January to May, then entered the 5,500-6,300won range during May and into early June, before declining further in recent days.

Market prices fall naturally when market demand for grain declines following state distribution. Additional factors also compound the phenomenon: notably, Party cadres and other affluent groups tend to put their distributed rice directly into the market, since they don’t wish to consume the low-quality product, while the distribution of new potatoes to farmers simultaneously reduces rural demand for grain.

Also, according to the Hyesan source, “Poor people are less concerned with being unable to eat now and more worried about the future, so they sell their rice to gather money, too. Since cadres don’t normally eat their distributed rice either, when there is distribution it can seem as if everyone is trying to sell all their rice in the market at the same time.”

However, “The amounts being distributed are slowly decreasing, suggesting that their capacity to deliver distribution may have a limit,” the source warned. “The authorities say that distribution will continue, but people are not ready to believe that.”

Read the full story here:
Mix of Factors Brings Rice Price Down
Daily NK
Lee Sang Yong


DPRK lending farmland to city workers to increase food supply

Wednesday, June 26th, 2013

According to Yonhap (via Global Post):

North Korea has started to lend state-owned farmland to city laborers as part of efforts to solve chronic food shortages, a local group said Wednesday,

“Since mid-May, the North started to lend state-owned cooperative farmland to city workers as part of its various efforts to solve serious food shortage problems for city workers,” the North Korea Intellectuals Solidarity said in a press conference, citing inside sources in the North.

City laborers are bearing the brunt of food shortages in the North while farming workers have easier access to farm produce, the group said.

North Korean leader Kim Jong-un is well aware of growing indignation among citizens over food shortages and in order to quell their anger, the leader is drawing a variety of ideas to help them feed themselves, it said.

The latest farmland renting plan is one of the North’s ideas to help solve food shortages, according to the study group.

Under the plan, one plant worker or state firm employee can borrow up to 826.5 square meters of land belonging to state-owned cooperative farms and they are required to pay about 25 kilograms of corn or 12.5 kg of beans in rent, the group said.

The country is promoting the plan as an effective way to encourage workers to raise self-sufficiency as well as to increase national agricultural output, it said, adding that some citizens are pessimistic about the plan because of the shortages of seeds, fertilizer and other tools needed for farming.

Read the full story here:
N. Korea starts to lend farmland to city workers to solve food shortage
Yonhap (via Global Post)


UN food body approves $200 mn food aid to N. Korea

Saturday, June 8th, 2013

According to Agence France-Presse:

The UN food body on Saturday said it had approved $200 million of food aid for North Korea, targeting the country’s most vulnerable people who remain dependent on external assistance.

The World Food Programme (WFP) executive board has this week approved a new two-year operation for North Korea starting on July 1, WFP spokesman Marcus Prior said.

“It will target about 2.4 million people – almost all children, and pregnant and nursing women – with about 207,000 [206,800] metric tons of food assistance at a cost of US$200 million,” he said in an email to AFP.

The WFP will continue to focus on the nutritional needs of young children and their mothers through food which will be manufactured in the North using ingredients imported by the food body, he said.

“WFP remains very concerned about the long-term intellectual and physical development of young children in particular who are malnourished due to a diet lacking in key proteins, fats and micronutrients,” added Prior.

In March, UN resident coordinator in North Korea Desiree Jongsma said timely imports from the WFP had contributed to avoiding a crisis this year but two thirds of the nation’s 24 million population were still chronically food insecure.

Nearly 28 percent of children under five in the North suffer from chronic malnutrition and four percent are acutely malnourished, according to a UN national nutrition survey last year.

Overall production for the main 2012 harvest and early season crops this year was expected to reach 5.8 million tonnes, up 10 percent on 2011-2012, UN agencies said in November.

But the poverty-stricken country is still struggling to eradicate malnutrition and provide its people with vital protein, the UN’s Food and Agriculture Organization and WFP said.

North Korea suffered regular chronic food shortages under the Kim dynasty, with the situation exacerbated by floods, droughts and mismanagement. During a famine in the mid to late-1990s, hundreds of thousands died.

International food aid, especially that from South Korea and the United States, has been drastically cut over the past several years amid tensions over the communist state’s nuclear and missile programmes.

The US last provided food aid to North Korea from late 2008 to March 2009. Some 170,000 tonnes out of an expected 500,000 tonnes was delivered, until Pyongyang expelled US workers monitoring the distribution.

Here is the official announcement.

Quarterly bulletin for WFP’s operation Nutrition Support to Women and Children in DPR Korea (Q1, 2013)

DPRK National Nutrition Survey (October 2012)

Read the full story here:
UN food body approves $200 mn food aid to N. Korea
Agence France-Presse


UN WFP report claims DPRK citizens undernourished

Tuesday, May 7th, 2013

According to Yonhap:

Eight out of every 10 North Korean families are suffering malnutrition with little access to protein foods, a U.S. media report said Tuesday.

In its survey of 87 North Korean families from January to March, the World Food Program (WFP) found that 80 percent of them were undernourished mainly due to a lack of protein intake, the Washington-based Voice of America (VOA) said.

About 38 percent of those surveyed were not able to eat high-protein foods during the one week before the survey, such as meat, fish, eggs or beans, said the report, monitored in Seoul.

Quoting the WFP report, the VOA said the North Korean families, on average, eat meat 1.3 days a week or beans 1.2 days per week.

The report also said about 14 percent of the 86 hospitalized North Korean children under age 5 whom its aid workers visited during the January-March period were in serious malnutrition conditions.

Meanwhile, AmeriCares, a U.S. non-profit aid group, is about to send 10.5 tons of drugs in humanitarian assistance to the North this week, another U.S. media report said.

The aid package, which includes antibiotics, stomach medicines and dermatology drugs, will be shipped later this week to six hospitals in Pyongyang and other areas, the Washington-based Radio Free Asia reported. The shipment will also include personal hygiene items like toothbrushes and soaps, it said.

The RFA said the latest aid has no political consideration and is solely for humanitarian purposes.

AmeriCares began its aid to the North in 1997 as the first American private group to do so. Last year, it sent US$7 million worth of medicine for flood victims in the impoverished country.

Read the full story here:
Eight out of 10 N. Korean families undernourished: report