N. Korea says it has been hit by worst drought in 100 years


North Korea says it has been hit by its worst drought in a cen­tury, re­sult­ing in ex­ten­sive dam­age to agri­cul­ture.

The of­fi­cial Korean Cen­tral News Agency said the drought has caused about 30 per­cent of its rice pad­dies to dry up. Rice plants nor­mally need to be par­tially sub­merged in wa­ter dur­ing the early sum­mer.

“Wa­ter level of reser­voirs stands at the low­est, while rivers and streams (are) get­ting dry,” it said in a re­port Tues­day.

An of­fi­cial from South Korea’s Uni­fi­ca­tion Min­istry, who asked not to be iden­ti­fied be­cause of of­fice rules, said pre­cip­i­ta­tion in North Korea was ab­nor­mally low in May. Its pro­duc­tion of rice and pota­toes could de­cline by as much as 20 per­cent com­pared to av­er­age years if the short­age of rain­fall ex­tends to early July, he said. The of­fi­cial couldn’t con­firm North Korea’s claim that it was ex­pe­ri­enc­ing its worst drought in a cen­tury.

KCNA said other crops were be­ing planted in paddy fields in an at­tempt to re­duce the agri­cul­tural short­fall.

North Korea suf­fered a dev­as­tat­ing famine dur­ing the 1990s that is be­lieved to have killed hun­dreds of thou­sands of peo­ple. The famine is also be­lieved to have loos­ened the au­thor­i­tar­ian state’s con­trol over the econ­omy by dam­ag­ing its public food dis­tri­bu­tion sys­tem and paving the way for pri­vate eco­nomic ac­tiv­ity in unof­fi­cial mar­kets.

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