North Korea has been ramping up efforts to boost crop production during the fall harvest season amid expectations that the impoverished country's food shortages have improved, compared with the first half of the year.
The Rodong Sinmun, the North's main newspaper, recently carried a report that a "critical" time has come in attaining the goal of this year's grain production, while urging officials to lead efforts to produce satisfactory outcomes in the agricultural sector.
"It is essential for the country's provincial, city and county committees to well guide efforts to produce achievements in the agricultural sector with the attitude that they are fully responsible for the outcome of farming in their regions," North Korean leader Kim Jong-un was quoted as saying by the paper issued Sept. 23.
In a separate report, the newspaper also called on people to plant wheat and barley this year in an apparent bid to diversify crop production, which has been centered on rice and corn so far.
South Korea's unification ministry said the North's food situation appears to have improved, compared with the first six months of the year, on the back of an increase in the crop harvest and imports.
With deaths from starvation reported in some regions, North Korea has reportedly been facing serious food shortages, as its prolonged COVID-19 border closure and disruptions in state-controlled food supply have aggravated the situation.
Russian Ambassador to North Korea Alexander Matsegora said in a recent interview with Russia's state news agency TASS that North Korea turned down Russia's offer to provide food aid, saying it has had a "good harvest."
North Korea's crop production is estimated to have reached 4.51 million tons last year, down 3.8 percent from a year earlier, according to a report by the South's Rural Development Administration. (Yonhap)
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