By Koh Byung-joon
SEOUL, Aug. 11 (Yonhap) -- North Korea's official newspaper called Tuesday for stepped-up efforts to minimize flood-caused damage to the farming sector as the country is struggling to cope with recent heavy downpours.
North Korea has recently been hit hard by heavy rains in many regions, including rice-producing areas in its southern parts. On Monday, state media reported that the North received as much as 200 millimeters of rain in Hwanghae and Kangwon provinces and forecast around 70 mm of rain would fall overnight.
"Once rice is under water, it would lead to a loss in the crop yield," the Rodong Sinmun, the organ of the North's ruling party, said in an article. "In this sense, draining water (from rice paddy) would be a major factor that will determine whether this year's crop production objective would be met."
"Workers and farmers are placing top priority on protecting farming land and crops against flooding, heavy downpours and strong winds," the paper added.
North Korea has been on high alert in recent weeks to minimize the impact of the heavy downpours on its farming areas amid worries that poor harvests could aggravate its chronic food shortage.
State media said last week that leader Kim Jong-un visited a flood-damaged village in North Hwanghae Province and ordered supplies to be sent to flood victims after heavy rains left more than 900 homes inundated or destroyed there.
"Nobody knows when and where heavy rains will fall again and inundate farming areas," the paper said. "Countermeasures should be thoroughly drawn up to protect farming areas against flooding."
North Korea is known to be vulnerable to flooding due to poor irrigation and deforestation. Last summer, a strong typhoon pummeled the North, wreaking havoc on its farming areas.
The recent heavy downpours came as the North has been striving to prevent the spread of the new coronavirus. It recently declared a state of emergency and put the border town of Kaesong under lockdown, claiming that a "runaway" defector suspected of COVID-19 infection came back from the South.
Five years after its full nuke armament claim, N. Korea's threat becomes real, further complicated
(News Focus) S. Korea grapples with calls for nuclear armament
Talk of 'normalizing' GSOMIA raises hope, skepticism around Seoul-Tokyo ties
S. Korea, U.S., Japan close ranks amid growing N.K. threats
N. Korea says month-old virus crisis under control, but skepticism lingers