North Korean dictator Kim Jong Un announced his regime will take stronger control of the nation's agricultural sector amid the ongoing food shortage.
Kim revealed the plan for more state intervention during a four-day conference with Workers' Party of Korea officials, according to state media.
"In order to attain the gigantic long-term objective of rural development, it is necessary to decisively strengthen the party guidance over the agricultural sector and improve the rural party work," state media quoted from Kim's speech.
The Workers' Party is the sole ruling party of North Korea. It follows a communist ideology and has been in complete control of the nation since the Korean War.
South Korean experts estimate that North Korea is short around 1 million tons of grain, 20% of its annual demand, after the pandemic disrupted both farming and imports from China.
Recent, unconfirmed reports have said an unknown number of North Koreans have died of hunger. But observers have seen no indication of mass deaths or famine in North Korea.
Kim's initiative is the latest move in the nation's apparent campaign to establish a more planned economy in the style of his late father and grandfather.
The hermit kingdom has sharpened its international aggression with an ongoing nuclear program that has raised concerns from the international community.
South Korea called North Korea "our enemy" for the first time in six years in its biennial defense document published in February.
The country's description of its rival in defense papers typically reflects the relationship between the two. During past times of animosity, South Korea referred to its neighbor as the "main enemy," "present enemy" or "enemy." When relations were on better terms, such references were not made.
The Associated Press contributed to this report.