March 29, 2023

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Kim has ordered North Korea to make a “radical shift” in agriculture amid reports of food shortages

SEOUL (Reuters) – North Korean leader Kim Jong Un urged government officials to make a “fundamental shift” in agricultural production, state media reported on Tuesday, amid fears of worsening food shortages in the country.

Kim said meeting grain production targets this year was a top priority and stressed the importance of stabilizing agricultural production during the second day of the seventh enlarged meeting of the Eighth Central Committee of the Workers’ Party of Korea on Monday, according to the official KCNA. KCNA.

The report did not say what actions North Korea would take, but Kim said changes should happen in the next few years.

Collective farms account for the vast majority of agriculture in North Korea, according to the researchers. Such farms usually host many small farmers who produce crops with common labour.

Kim’s comments come amid reports of growing food shortages in the country, though North Korea has denied suggestions it cannot provide for its own citizens.

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Earlier this month, South Korea’s Unification Ministry said the food situation in the North “appears to have deteriorated.”

The ministry said at the time that it was rare for North Korea to announce a special meeting on agriculture strategy that had been scheduled for late February.

In his speech at Monday’s meeting, the agency said Kim pointed out “the importance of the growth of agricultural productive forces” in ensuring socialist construction.

North Korea is under tough international sanctions over its nuclear weapons and ballistic missile programmes, and its economy has been further strained by strict border closures it has imposed aimed at stemming the spread of the coronavirus.

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The full extent of North Korea’s food shortages is unclear, but in a January report, the US-based 38 North Project said food insecurity was at its worst since the famines that devastated the country in the 1990s.

“It is likely that food availability has fallen below the minimum level in relation to human needs,” the report said.

He found that North Korea’s pursuit of self-sufficiency meant that almost all of its grain was produced domestically, but that this left the country vulnerable, 38 North.

“Achieving adequate agricultural production in North Korea’s unfavorable soil has paradoxically led to a heavy dependence on imported goods and left the country vulnerable to global shocks, diplomatic conflicts and adverse weather conditions,” the report said.

The long-term solution to the problems lies in part in resolving the confrontation over nuclear weapons and sanctions, but it also requires economic reforms.

38 North said that initiating domestic economic reforms would loosen North Korea’s production restrictions and allow it to export industrial products and tradable services, earn foreign exchange, and import bulk grains on a commercially sustainable basis.

Reporting by Hyunsu Yim; Editing by Sandra Mahler and Michael Berry

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