Seoul, May 31 (IANS): North Korea is in urgent need of food imports or assistance as many of its people continue to suffer from food shortages and malnutrition, with the gap estimated at 860,000 tonnes, data from the US intelligence community revealed on Tuesday.
The country's food gap is equivalent to around two to three months of food use, with the woes deepening in the midst of economic constraints attributable to its ongoing Covid-19 fight, Yonhap News Agency reported citing the data posted on the online World Factbook of the Central Intelligence Agency (CIA).
"Due to low food consumption levels, poor dietary diversity, and economic downturn, a large portion of the population suffers from low levels of food consumption and very poor dietary diversity," it says.
"The economic constraints, particularly resulting from the global impact of the Covid-19 pandemic, have increased the population's vulnerability to food insecurity.
"If this gap is not adequately covered through commercial imports and/or food aid, households could experience a harsh lean period," it added.
The North imposed stringent border controls against the pandemic in early 2020.
It even implemented nationwide lockdowns after admitting to a Covid-19 outbreak earlier this month.
The CIA put the North's population this year at 25.96 million, with 3.13 million, or 12 per cent of the total, living in the capital city of Pyongyang.
The average life expectancy in the nation is estimated at 71.77 years, it said.