North Korea will fall short of producing the food it needs to feed its people by 1.2 million tons if it does not receive foreign assistance this year, a South Korean think-tank said Monday.
The state-run Korea Rural Economic Institute (KREI) said in a report that the North's food grain output is forecast to reach 3.80-4.00 million tons this year, larger than the 3.52 million tons estimated by the U.N. Food and Agriculture Organization. The total, however, falls far short of the 5.23 million tons the country needs to feed its people and livestock.
Of the total requirements, 4.05 million tons are needed for food, 300,000 tons for animal feed, 170,000 tons for seeds and 122,000 tons for processed food.
"The size of the shortage is based on conservative figures since it assumes the total population stands at 24.30 million and people eat less than the recommended daily intake of food," KREI said.
The latest assessment on demand is based on a average North Korean consuming 1,600 kilocalories (kcal) of food per day, or 167 kilograms for the entire year, compared to the 2,130 kcal recommended by the World Food Program.
It said based on this prediction, the North may be short by 1.20-1.40 million tons of food. Although the country usually imports 200,000 tons of food annually, that could reduce the shortage by a maximum 1.2 million tons.
The report said the North may find itself unable to get assistance in making up this year's food shortfall due to Pyongyang's nuclear ambitions and U.N.-imposed sanctions.
Only China is expected to provide grain to its neighbor -- about 300,000 tons, the amount that it has provided in the past.