News that food production in the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea (DPRK) in 2018 was at its lowest point for a decade is raising fears that many vulnerable groups – children, pregnant and breastfeeding women, older people and people with underlying illnesses – may be at risk of under-nutrition and health problems.

The worst effects of the poor harvest will only be seen during the lean season, which runs from May to September. To mitigate any food shortages and prevent malnutrition, the DPRK Red Cross is operating around 100 greenhouses around the country, producing a variety of vegetables, including tomatoes, cucumbers, chilis, peppers and mushrooms, that can be harvested all year around.

DPRK has suffered a series of recurrent climate-related disasters– including a heatwave, a dry spell, typhoon Soulik, floods and landslides – which have worsened existing vulnerabilities in the country. It is estimated that more than 10 million people – 41 per cent of the population – are currently in need of humanitarian aid.