Issued weekly by the United Nations World Food Programme
Date: 7 Jun 1997


(Details below in Part II)


1. Update

a) FAO/WFP Special Alert, issued on 3 June, warns that severe food shortages are faced by the population throughout the country. b) Substantial food aid shipments are arriving in DPR Korea: 69,000 tons arrived in May; confirmed shipments for June total 192,000 tons.




1.1 A joint FAO/WFP Crop and Food Supply Assessment Mission visited DPR Korea from 17 to 24 May. Its finding have been summarized in a Special Alert issued on 3 June.

1.2 The Mission concluded that the food crisis is worsening, with a grave food security situation developing in all parts of the country.

1.3 The Government's records showed that the food stocks of the Public Distribution System (PDS) on which some 80 percent of the population rely for their basic requirements, were expected to run out by the end of June. The food situation was equally desperate for the five million collective farm workers and their families who are not covered by the PDS but receive their share of the crops at the time of harvest.

1.4 Commercial imports are mainly limited to barter arrangements because of the country's serious hard currency constraints, and are inadequate to ensure regular food supplies, even at severely reduced levels, to the majority of the population.

1.5 In assessing the prospects for the main harvest in October, the Mission found that early winter thaw in March and good rains in May had benefitted the germination and establishment of maize and also supplemented soil moisture and irrigation supplies for paddy. Maize planting had been completed by mid May and paddy transplanting was expected to be completed by early June, some two weeks in advance of normal sowing periods. However, in spite of a mass Government programme to replenish top soils last winter and increase the supply of organic fertilizers, food production this year will continue to be seriously constrained by the lack of essential inputs such as chemical fertilizers, pesticides and fuel and spare parts for machinery.

1.6 The Mission concluded that the total import requirements for the 1996/97 marketing year (November 1996 to October 1997) amounted to some 1.9 million tons. Out of this, 430,000 tons might be imported commercially with confirmed food aid contributions providing an additional 323,000 tons. The remaining uncovered requirement would thus be close to 1.2 million tons.

1.7 Recorded arrivals during the month of May total some 69,000 tons. This can be compared to 40,100 tons of food which arrived during the six-month period November 1996-April 1997. Confirmed shipments for June amount to 192,000 tons, including a bilateral contribution of 70,000 tons of maize from China. Total arrivals in June are expected to increase even further: the European Community, which in May sent a shipment of 35,400 tons of rice and maize meal, is currently discussing with WFP the possibilities of further large-scale contributions to DPR Korea.

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