Aug. 13 (UPI) — North Korea experienced worsening drought through July, a sign extreme weather conditions have been amplified due to record high temperatures and a heat wave affecting the region.
International agency GEOGLAM, the Group on Earth Observations Global Agricultural Monitoring Initiative, formed under a G20 mandate in 2011, said the drought situation is worsening in North Korea, particularly in the central and southern regions, Radio Free Asia reported Tuesday.
GEOGLAM’s report confirms North Korean state media reports. Earlier this year, state media said the area most seriously hit includes South Hwanghae Province, also known as the rice basket of the country.
GEOGLAM’s findings were made public in its August agricultural report. The international agency said Pyongyang, the capital, in addition to North and South Hwanghae provinces, have not received rain for three months from May to July.
The dry weather has damaged crops, and surveys indicate this year’s corn crops are showing lower levels of above-ground biomass, compared to 2018.
“Main season maize and rice crops are in growing phases and rough conditions worsened in July, primarily in central and southern parts of the country,” GEOGLAM said in its August early warning report.
Water reservoirs are at lower levels than a year ago, according to the report.
“Hwanghae Namdo, for instance, received only 35 percent of average rainfall during the period from June 21-July 20, and 50 percent of average rainfall from April 21 to July 20,” the international agency said.
Drought is affecting North Korea at a time when the regime continues to mobilize youth in state construction projects.
Pyongyang’s news agency KCNA reported Tuesday more than 4,800 university students from more than 110 universities are engaging in manual labor in Samjiyon county.
The students are being directed to dig and lay concrete for new roads, according to North Korean state media.