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North Korea Food Shortages
Are Dire, Says WFP

April 16, 2008 (EIRNS)—Tony Banbury, World Food Program's (WFP) Regional Director for Asia, has warned that time is running out to avert looming food shortages and a potential humanitarian crisis in North Korea.

The UN Food and Agricultural Organization (FAO) recently projected a 2008 food shortfall in North Korea of 1.66 million metric tons, a near doubling of the 2007 deficit, and the highest since 2001. WFP estimates that more than 6.5 million people in North Korea suffer from food insecurity—a figure that can be expected to rise if action is not taken to address the growing food shortages.

Banbury pointed out that the food-producing provinces most heavily affected by the floods also show the largest drop in production; the southern-most provinces of South and North Pyongyang, South and North Hwanghae, and Kangwon all suffered losses of 23%-33% compared to the previous year.

Prices of staple foods in the capital Pyongyang have doubled over the past year, and are now at their highest recorded levels since 2004. Rice now costs around 2,000 won/kg (up from 700-900 won/kg in April 2007) and maize costs around 600 won/kg (350 won/kg in April 2007). An average monthly workers salary is approximately 6,000 won/month.