North Korea's Kim demands more farmland to boost food production

By Reuters   March 1, 2023 | 04:48 pm PT
North Korea's Kim demands more farmland to boost food production
North Korean leader Kim Jong Un attends the 7th enlarged plenary meeting of the 8th Central Committee of the Workers' Party of Korea (WPK) in Pyongyang, North Korea, March 1, 2023 in this photo released by North Korea's Korean Central News Agency (KCNA). Photo by KCNA via Reuters
North Korean leader Kim Jong Un ordered improvements to infrastructure and expansion of farmland to ramp up food production, state media said on Thursday, amid warnings of an impending food crisis.

Kim gave instructions to revamp irrigation systems, build modern farming machines and create more arable land as he wrapped up the seventh enlarged plenary meeting of the ruling Workers' Party's powerful Central Committee on Wednesday.

The meeting began on Sunday to discuss the "urgent" task of improving the agricultural sector.

South Korea has warned of an exacerbating food crisis in the isolated North, including a recent surge in deaths from hunger in some regions.

North Korea's economy has been battered by floods and typhoons, sanctions over its nuclear and missile programs, and a sharp decline in trade with China amid border closures and Covid-19 lockdowns.

South Korea's rural development agency estimated the North's crop production fell nearly 4% last year from the year before, citing heavy summer rains and other economic conditions.

Kim laid out plans and specific tasks to build "rich and highly-civilized socialist rural communities with advanced technology and modern civilization," the official KCNA news agency said.

He stressed the need to tighten discipline in implementing the national economic plan, warning against "practices of weakening the organizational and executive power of the cabinet," and ordered all party units to "get their working efficiency verified," KCNA said.

The Central Committee also discussed ways to improve the country's financial management, KCNA said, without elaborating.

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