North Korea Entering 'Harsh Lean Period' With Food Shortage of 860,000 Tons This Year

North Korea is expected to enter a "harsh lean period" next month with a food shortage of 860,000 tons this year, according to a recent report.

Released by the United Nations Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO), the report stated that North Korea is expected to produce a "near-average level" of food crop, which is around 5.6 million tons.

"With commercial imports officially planned at 205 000 tonnes, the uncovered food gap is estimated at about 860 000 tonnes, equivalent to approximately 2.3 months of food use," the report read.

It continued: "If this gap is not adequately covered through commercial imports and/or food aid, households could experience a harsh lean period from August to October, when the 2021 main season crops will be available for consumption."

Mario Zappacosta, a member of the United Nations FAO Global Information and Early Warning System on Food and Agriculture, wrote in a statement to Newsweek that "if no food is entering the country trough commercial trade or food aid, the shortage will be felt during the period immediately before the next harvest that will start in October/November."

In response to the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic, North Korea shut its borders that resulted in a decline of trade with China. Data released in June by the China General Administration of Customs (GAC) show a stark decrease in North Korean imports from China amid the COVID-19 pandemic. According to the data, in April, North Korean imports from China totaled $28.78 million, but this number fell to $2.7 million in May. The data also showed a decrease in North Korean exports to China.

Additionally, North Korea also faced a series of storms last summer, which flooded dozens of homes and farmlands. The North Korean magazine Rimjin-gang reported in June that typhoon flooding led to an increase in corn and rice prices.

In response to the weather situation and the decline in trade, North Korean leader Kim Jong Un said, as reported by Korean Central News Agency (KCNA): "The people's food situation is now getting tense as the agricultural sector failed to fulfill its grain production plan due to the damage by typhoon last year."

In May, 2019, the United Nations FAO Global Information and Early Warning System on Food and Agriculture said that a food security assessment in North Korea found that around 10.1 million people were suffering from a "severe food shortage."

"The assessment, which is based on UN Food and Agriculture Organization and World Food Programme missions to the country last month and in November 2018, concluded that the reduced harvest, coupled with increased post-harvest losses, has led to an uncovered food deficit of 1.36 million metric tons after considering the commercial import capacity of the country," the study said.

North Korea
A new report from the United Nations Food and Agriculture Organization found that North Korea is entering a "harsh lean period" with food shortages of 860,000 tons. This photo shows North Korea's leader Kim Jong Un before a meeting with US President Donald Trump on the south side of the Military Demarcation Line that divides North and South Korea, on June 30, 2019 Brendan Smialowski/Getty