SEOUL, March 2 (Reuters) – North Korean leader Kim Jong Un has ordered infrastructure improvements and the expansion of farmland to boost food production, state media said on Thursday, amid warnings from an impending food crisis.
Kim gave instructions to revamp irrigation systems, build modern agricultural machinery and create more arable land as he wrapped up the seventh expanded plenary meeting of the powerful Central Committee of the ruling Workers’ Party on Wednesday.
The meeting started on Sunday to discuss the “urgent” task of improving the agricultural sector.
South Korea has warned of a growing food crisis in the isolated North, including a recent rise in starvation deaths in some areas, in part due to what it said was a failed food crisis. new grain policy limiting private transactions on crops.
North Korea’s economy has been hit by floods and typhoons, sanctions on its nuclear and missile programs and a sharp drop in trade with China amid border closures and COVID-19 shutdowns .
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South Korea’s rural development agency estimated the north’s agricultural production fell nearly 4 percent last year from a year earlier, citing heavy summer rains and other economic conditions.
Kim outlined specific plans and tasks to build “wealthy and highly civilized socialist rural communities with advanced technology and modern civilization”, the official KCNA news agency said.
He ordered the overhaul of the irrigation system to cope with climate change, the production of efficient agricultural machinery to modernize production and the reclamation of wetlands to expand agricultural areas, KCNA said.
Experts say the lack of adequate agricultural infrastructure, machinery and supplies, including fertilizer and fuel, has made North Korea more vulnerable to natural disasters.
The mountainous country has also sought to expand arable land through tidal reclamation along its west coast since the 1980s, but earlier efforts have failed in part due to poor engineering and maintenance. .
Under Kim, reclamation projects have been relatively more successful, but with slow progress in converting coastal mudflats to fertile farmland, they have done little to alleviate food shortages, the project said. 38 North based in the United States at the end of 2021.
“The state media report said they have set new goals and action plans, but I don’t see anything new as all the elements, including irrigation and reclamation, have already been raised before,” said Lim Eul-chul, a professor of North Korean studies. at Kyungnam University in South Korea.
Yang Moo-jin, a professor at the University of North Korea Studies in Seoul, also noted that the report did not suggest new ideas or a possible shift in grain policy that South Korea blames for the food shortages.
KCNA said Kim stressed the need to strengthen discipline in implementing the economic plan, warning against “practices of weakening the organizational and executive power of the cabinet,” and ordered all party units to “have their working efficiency checked”.
The Central Committee also discussed ways to improve the country’s financial management, KCNA reported, without giving further details.
Reporting by Hyonhee Shin; Editing by Stephen Coates and Lincoln Feast.
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