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North Korea facing no impending food crisis, pro-Pyongyang newspaper reports

North Korea facing no impending food crisis, pro-Pyongyang newspaper reports

Despite heavy floods and international economic sanctions, North Korea's grain production was not bad last year and the impoverished nation is not facing any impending food crisis, a pro-Pyongyang newspaper reported Wednesday.
The North's food production last year was similar to that of 2005 and "is running on an ascent trajectory," said the Japan-based Chosun Sinbo newspaper in a report from Pyongyang, citing an Agriculture Ministry official.
"Compared with our goal, the production is not satisfactory, but the eating problem of our people is not at a serious level at all," said the official, Kim Kyong Il, according to the report posted on its Web site seen in Seoul.
The report did not give specific figures, but the North's grain production in 2005 amounted to some 4.5 million tons, about 2 million tons short of its annual need.
The communist regime has made up such shortfalls with outside aid. But its test-firing of a series of missiles in July and its October nuclear test are believed to have led to a cut in such assistance. South Korea, one of the main aid providers for the North, suspended aid shipments after the missile tests.
Further worsening the North's food situation was heavy floods in July that are believed to have caused food losses of some 100,000 tons.
Kim said the North overcame such difficulties by focusing the country's resources on the agriculture sector and improving grain seeds so that they can grow better in the country's climate.
North Korea has been suffering from food shortages since the mid-1990s, when natural disasters and mismanagement devastated its economy and led to a famine estimated to have killed some 2 million people.
The Chosun Sinbo, run by an association of North Korean residents in Japan, is not part of North Korea's official media, but is considered one of the country's propaganda tools and its articles are believed to reflect the country's position.