North Korean leader Kim Jong Un Photograph:( AFP )
The coronavirus pandemic and several floods and storms have sent North Korea's economy in a downward spiral, also leading to a 'food crisis'
The UN's Food and Agricultural Organization says that North Korea is facing a severe food shortage equivalent to 860,000 tonnes this year.
A "harsh lean period" could begin as soon as next month, according to the agency.
It has long struggled to feed itself, suffering chronic food shortages as a result of multiple international sanctions over its nuclear weapons and ballistic missile programmes.
The coronavirus pandemic and summer of storms and floods further strained the country's economy with Pyongyang acknowledging last month that it was facing a "current food crisis".
In the FAO report, which had a Monday reference date, North Korea is expecting its grain production to be at a "near-average level" of 5.6 million tonnes this year.
The report indicated that North Korea's total food supply falls short by approximately 1.1 million tonnes. With 205,000 tonnes of commercial imports planned, the country will likely face an 860,000 tonnes shortage of food.
Households in August and October could suffer a harsh lean period if this gap isn't adequately closed through commercial imports or food aid, the report said.
As a result of closing its borders against the pandemic last year, Pyongyang's trade with Beijing -- its economic lifeline -- has slowed down substantially. In addition to this, all international aid workers have left the country.
Last summer, a series of typhoons triggered floods destroying thousands of homes and flooding farmlands. In recent months, Kim Jong Un has made rare references to the hardship, saying that the food situation was getting "tense". North Korea has urged residents to prepare for the "worst-ever conditions".
As a result of the fall of the former Soviet Union, which left the country without crucial aid, North Korea suffered a massive nationwide famine in the 1990s that killed hundreds of thousands of people.