North Korean University Asks Help From Texas A&M University With Food SecurityBy Emily Marks, UniversityHerald Reporter
A North Korean University has enlisted the help of Texas A&M University, which is known for its agricultural economics and public health programs. On Monday, the only private university in North Korea asked for help on how to grow food in a land of chronic shortages.
Reuters reported that the Pyongyang University of Science and Technology (PUST), which opened in 2010 and was founded by evangelical Christians, has reached out to Texas A&M University. The school has said that the help is not based on politics but about humanitarian ideals.
Yu-Taik Chon, executive vice president of the university, told Texas A&M officials that there is no school like it in North Korea. Chon added that this can lead to more opportunities for the outside world to work with future leaders of the reclusive nation.
It was noted that North Korea and its planned rationing system was never able to fully recover from a famine that hit it in the 1990s. A World Food Program report found that, last year from April to June, the state gave out just 360 grams of rations per person per day. This is said to be the lowest amount for five years.
PUST's volunteer faculty, a majority of whom are evangelical Christians, has already included subjects that were considered taboo in North Korea such as capitalism. Delegation members have said that the employees at the North Korean university do not discuss politics and religion in the classroom.
The school is asking for help from 10 U.S. universities on subjects such as food security and how to improve nutrition. The other schools have asked not to disclose their names.
Texas A&M University has developed projects in several parts of the world, such as Afghanistan and central Africa. According to KBTX, the school is helping PUST by donating published material, curriculum and common guides that farmers can use to enhance their programs.
Texas A&M is also planning to send graduate students and professors to the reclusive country to teach. Edwin Price, Professor of Agriculture Economics at Texas A&M University, noted that this is part of efforts to build a bridge for peace through science and technology.