North Korea looks to India for rice amid food shortages

North Korea appears to be seeking rice donations from India after Kim Jong-un’s regime warned the country to prevent flooding damage to farmlands from a typhoon passing over its east coast.

The state-run Korean Central News Agency said on Tuesday that cities and counties in North Hwanghae Province, south of Pyongyang, were hit by Typhoon Hinnamnor, which approached North Korea’s east coast after making landfall in South Korea, with “minimal damage to crops nearing harvest.” It said it has taken steps to limiton tuesday

On the same day, Chairman Kim held a meeting calling for efforts to protect “disaster prevention” and “national prosperity and development.”

It’s unclear how the typhoon will affect North Korea’s unharvested crops. But flooding farmlands in August and Pyongyang’s strict COVID-19-related border closures are expected to exacerbate food shortages.

“Like last year, floods have again destroyed crops, and North Korea’s continued border restrictions have made access to food more difficult than before the pandemic,” said Troy Stangaron, senior director of the Korea Institute of Economic Research. There is reason to believe that it is,” he said.

ask india for help

VOA’s Korean Service learned that Pyongyang is looking to India for rice, a staple food usually imported from China.

Manpreet Singh, Secretary General of the Indian International Chamber of Business, an organization that helps small and medium-sized Indian companies to expand globally, told South Korea Service in an email on 30 August, while North Korean Embassy officials visited the organization in New Delhi. said he did.

“The embassy told us to consider the possibility of donating rice,” Singh said, because “floods destroyed most of the crops.”

The United Nations mission in New York City, North Korea, did not respond to VOA South Korean service questions about North Korea’s food situation and whether it was seeking outside aid. It rejected South Korea’s offer of economic aid in exchange for denuclearization outlined in a “bold initiative” announced on the 15th.

Kim Yo-jong, the influential sister of the North Korean leader, responded on August 19, “No one trades fate with corn cakes.”

Bradley Babson, a former adviser to the World Bank and now a member of the advisory board of the Korea Economic Research Institute, said North Korea sought Indian business groups rather than humanitarian aid groups because of health or health concerns. He said it was for political reasons, perhaps because he wanted to avoid the requirement to accept aid. Sending workers into the country to monitor the distribution of aid.

“Thousands of tons could be obtained from countries like India and Vietnam that do not insist on surveillance requirements,” Babson said.

VOA’s Korean Service learned on August 26th about an advertisement for a vessel to transport 10,000 tons of rice from the port of Vizak in eastern India to the port of Nampo in North Korea between September 25th and 30th.

A source with knowledge of the ad told the South Korean service that the party exporting rice wanted to ship long-grain varieties commonly grown in India, Pakistan, Thailand and Vietnam. We grow and consume grain rice.

It remains to be seen whether North Korea’s investigation into the Indian International Chamber of Commerce regarding rice donations and attempts by Indian exporters to ship rice to North Korea are linked.

Babson said “10,000 tons of rice is not a lot of rice” given North Korea’s food shortages. thinking about. [its] I think the food problem is very serious this year. ”

“WFP stays committed”

North Korea suffers from “chronic food insecurity and malnutrition” despite “government efforts to mitigate the effects of food shortages,” according to a 2021 report by the United Nations World Food Programme. I’m in

Kung Lee, spokesman for the UN WFP’s Asia-Pacific regional office in Bangkok, told the South Korean service on Wednesday that WFP and other international humanitarian organizations that left North Korea at the beginning of the pandemic said borders were closed. He said he was unable to return to resume aid operations because of the

“WFP remains committed to the North Korean people in need of assistance and we look forward to resuming our activities once borders for international personnel and cargo are reopened,” Lee said.

North Korea needs about 5.7 million tons of food for its population of about 26 million, according to the Seoul-based Korea Development Institute. According to the United Nations Food and Agriculture Organization, in 2021 there was a shortage of about 860,000 tons of food.

Mr Stangalong said North Korea may be importing rice from India. However, he said, “India may soon limit rice exports due to low rainfall in some parts of India. may face.”

According to Chinese customs data examined by VOA’s South Korean service, North Korea routinely imports rice from China, purchasing $5.15 million worth of rice in July, which is about 10,000 tons of rice. corresponds to

China could also experience severe drought this summer, jeopardizing agricultural production and creating food shortages.

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