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N. Korea holds agricultural conference to discuss increasing food production


North Korea held an agricultural conference to discuss ways to increase food production, state media said Monday, amid Pyongyang's intensifying "self-reliance" efforts in various areas in the face of crippling global sanctions.

During the three-day conference until Sunday, participants reviewed "their work with main emphasis on positively exchanging and sharing the high-yield experience of the agricultural front on which the best achievements were made even under the worst conditions and on exploring many good reserves for increased production," according to the Korean Central News Agency.

It did not specify what the worst conditions facing the country last year were, but they apparently referred to global sanctions.

They also "expressed their determination to defend the Korean revolution and precious socialism with rice by more fiercely raising the strong wind for increasing crop yields," the KCNA said.

North Korea earlier said that it had achieved a bumper crop last year despite typhoons and other unfavorable weather conditions, but experts say that it is suffering chronic shortfalls in food due to international sanctions hampering imports of key farming materials, such as fertilizer.

The North has called for "self-reliance" in food production, saying that a shortage of rice could make it inevitable to ask for outside help.

In his New Year's Day message, North Korean leader Kim Jong-un emphasized the importance of building an economy independent of external support and called for agricultural production to be "drastically" increased, saying there is no expectation of the US lifting sanctions against Pyongyang amid a lack of progress in denuclearization talks.

Earlier this month, Kim visited a fertilizer plant under construction in his first "field guidance trip" this year, highlighting the importance of agricultural production to feed his people, according to state media. (Yonhap)