"The people's food situation is now getting tense," Kim Jong-un said during a recent meeting with the central committee of the ruling Workers’ Party. The situation is so grim that North Korean farmers were reportedly asked to contribute 2 litres of their urine every day to help produce fertilizer.
North Korea's supreme leader Kim Jong-un has accepted that it’s a “tense” food situation in the country and blamed the typhoon and floods that hit the nation last year for crop failure, according to the official Korean Central News Agency.
"The people's food situation is now getting tense," Kim Jong-un said during a recent meeting with the central committee of the ruling Workers’ Party. He directed party leaders to concentrate on resolving food shortages saying the "agricultural sector failed to fulfil its grain production plan," according to the state-media report.
The development comes two months after Kim Jong-un was reported to have asked officials and people to "wage another, more difficult Arduous March".
The use of 'Arduous March' caught worldwide attention as it was last used by North Korean officials to refer to the period of devastating famine in the early 1990s. In the 1990s, the country suffered mass starvation as the collapse of the USSR left Pyongyang without crucial aid.
According to an estimate, about three million North Koreans starved to death during the period.
Now in 2021, a massive shortage of food has led to a dramatic rise in the prices of commodities. A kg of bananas costs Rs 3,336, according to NK News, which gathers information from contacts within North Korea.
Similarly, the price of a packet of black tea has shot up to Rs 5,167 and that of coffee to more than over 7,381, approximately. A kg of corn is said to be selling at Rs 204.81 in the country.
The major causes behind this acute food shortage are the closing of borders in the wake of the COVID-19 pandemic, international sanctions, and extensive flooding.
The country relies on China for food, fertiliser, and fuel but its imports have come down to $500 million from $2.5 billion, according to Chinese official customs data.
In fact, the situation is so grim that North Korean farmers were reportedly asked to contribute 2 litres of their urine every day to help produce fertilizer.
Besides, the COVID-19 restrictions have also made it difficult for food aid organisations to operate in the country. The sealed borders are another impediment to food aid from donor nations. Earlier this year, United Nations' Food and Agriculture Organisation had estimated North Korea is short of about 8,60,000 tonnes of food.
Meanwhile, North Korea has claimed that its industrial output has grown by 25 percent this year.
Kim Jong-un had succeeded his father promising his people a more prosperous future. However, the country has not been able to overcome the food shortage. Last year, Kim was seen holding back tears as he apologized for failing to improve the lives of his people.