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Climate change and North Korea

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By John Burton

North Korea's agricultural sector has long been mismanaged, but climate change is now making the situation much worse.

Over the past year, North Korea has seen record summer temperatures, severe droughts and then damaging floods from heavy rainfall due to typhoons ― all the result of changing Arctic weather patterns caused by global warming.

Two U.N. agencies, the Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO) and the World Food Program (WFP), estimated recently that North Korea produced 4.9 million tons of crops last year, its worst harvest in a decade, resulting in a food shortfall of 1.36 million tons. Total food supply fell by 9 percent.

The outlook for this year looks dire. The production of the early harvest is 20 percent lower than last year due to a reduced amount of snow, which normally covers the ground and protects early harvest crops such as wheat, barley and potato crops.

Some of the food that survived last year's bad weather was left in fields for weeks due to a lack of transport and fuel caused by international sanctions and was then eaten by rats and insects.

State rations, upon which 70 percent of the population depends, have been cut from 550 grams to 300 grams of food a day and could be reduced further this summer ahead of the fall........

© The Korea Times