North Korea is making every effort to minimize crop damage from Typhoon Bavi and record rainfall this season, its state media said Monday, calling it an urgent matter affecting the country’s self-reliance and prosperity.
“Minimizing crop damage is an urgent demand necessary to open the path toward self-reliance and self-prosperity,” the North’s official Rodong Sinmun said in an article, stressing that it is a pressing priority.
“Fight to minimize crop damage is not a mere economic, operational project, but an important political matter that could affect the party’s authority and national existence,” it added.
Bavi, the season’s eighth typhoon and one of this year’s most powerful, made landfall in North Korea on Thursday, causing heavy rains and flooding in many areas, including its southwestern provinces of North and South Hwanghae, the country’s major rice-producing region.
North Korean leader Kim Jong-un visited a typhoon-hit village and called for all-out efforts to minimize the damage to the agriculture industry and to the harvest. Kim emphasized that the scale of damage from Typhoon Bavi was smaller than expected, according to the Korea Central News Agency.
Typhoon Bavi struck North Korea as the country was still reeling from extensive flood damage earlier in August, when at least 22 people were killed and four others went missing. The natural disasters have dealt a blow to a regime already grappling with the COVID-19 pandemic and a flailing economy under international sanctions.
North Korea’s trade with its main economic partner, China, plummeted 67 percent to $412 million in the first half of 2020 from the previous year because it closed its border to prevent the spread of the novel coronavirus, according to data compiled by the Korea International Trade Association.
The recent flooding, which hit major agricultural areas in the country, has raised concerns over food security in North Korea.
The US Department of Agriculture’s Economic Research Service said that about 60 percent of North Koreans, or 15.3 million people, face food insecurity this year, with the COVID-19 pandemic aggravating an already dire situation.
By Ahn Sung-mi (firstname.lastname@example.org