North Korea’s Kim calls for ‘radical improvement’ in farm machine sector

SEOUL (Reuters) – North Korean leader Kim Jong Un has called for a “radical improvement” in the country’s farm machinery sector, state media reported on Wednesday, as the reclusive state pushes for agricultural modernisation to tackle chronic food shortages.

Visiting a farm machine exhibition on Tuesday, Kim said it was important to map out a long-term development plan to achieve mechanisation of agricultural work for rural development, KCNA news agency said.

A radical improvement in farm industrialisation “is an urgent requirement” Kim said, according to the KCNA report.

The visit comes days after Kim laid out the country’s economic goals for the New Year, where he said stabilising agricultural production at a high level was a key task.

On display at the exhibition were hundreds of different farm machines, including tractors, rice transplanters and unmanned helicopters, KCNA said.

The North has suffered serious food shortages in recent decades, including famine in the 1990s, often as a result of natural disasters. International experts have warned that border closures during the COVID-19 pandemic worsened food security.

North Korea’s crop output was estimated to have increased year-on-year in 2023 due to favourable weather conditions, but according to a South Korean official, still far below what is needed to address the country’s chronic food shortages.

(Reporting by Soo-hyang Choi; Editing by Lincoln Feast.)