Pyongyang, North Korea — Heavy rains in North Korea have destroyed tens of thousands of acres of crops, threatening to worsen the impoverished country's food shortage, a U.N. agency said Monday.
Recent flooding that damaged about 74,000 acres of arable land could lead to the loss of 100,000 metric tons of food, according to a World Food Program report. The estimated loss equals about 10 percent of the gap in the country's annual food supply, Paul Risely, WFP's Asia spokesman.
The food agency has said North Korea requires 5.5 million tons of food annually to feed its 23 million people but estimates the country can produce only about 4.5 million tons.
North Korea has relied on outside handouts since the 1990s, when as many as 2 million people are believed to have died because of famine caused by natural disasters and outdated farming methods.
South Korea, a key provider of rice and fertilizer aid, recently announced its intention to withhold rice aid to the North to protest the communist nation's test-firing of seven missiles earlier this month.