SEOUL, May 18 (Yonhap) -- North Korea's official newspaper on Monday highlighted intensifying efforts in a provincial area to increase rice production as the country is striving to achieve "food self-reliance" amid worries about chronic food shortages cause by extreme weather and global sanctions.
The Rodong Sinmun, the organ of the North's ruling party, carried comments made by local party officials in South Hwanghae Province, known as one of the country's breadbaskets, featuring their strong will and ongoing efforts to expand farming production.
"If you see any fields and paddies and sit down with farmers, you can find a very high level of spirit," the paper quoted a party official of the province as saying. He also vowed to turn the province into a place where the party's agricultural development plans can be perfectly realized.
The paper also quoted another party official in the region as saying that all-out efforts are being made to achieve a good harvest this year.
He added that objectives have not been able to be attained frequently due to the "wrong" practices among managers only focusing on targets without paying attention to farmers' real challenges.
He emphasized that it is necessary to tackle such issues as providing sufficient water and high-quality training and paving roads for better outcomes.
North Korea has claimed that it recorded a bumper harvest last year, but outside observers say the North has been suffering from chronic food shortages caused by droughts, flooding and other unfavorable weather conditions.
The North has called for increased food production, saying self-reliance in food supply is instrumental in ensuring the communist state's existence and dignity in the face of "murderous" global sanctions.
Leader Kim Jong-un urged a drastic increase in agricultural production in his speech in December, saying there is no expectation of the United States lifting sanctions against Pyongyang amid a lack of progress in denuclearization talks.
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