North Korea said Monday it is running out of food, even though it has been sharply cutting the daily ration of grain for its 24 million people.

Quoting an unidentified government official, the North's state-run Korean Central News Agency said the communist nation's domestic grain stock stood at 167,000 tons as of Jan. 1.The government cut the daily ration per person from 10.5 ounces a day to 7 ounces a day in February. Even if the ration is cut again to 3.5 ounces, "the stock will run out in mid-March," the official said.

International experts say a daily minimum of 1 pound of food is needed to keep an adult relatively healthy.

North Korea has suffered through three years of disastrous weather that aggravated problems caused by inefficient cooperative farming techniques.

The U.N. World Food Program issued a new appeal in January for 650,000 tons of food for North Korea this year.

The United States has committed 200,000 tons, worth $75 million, to the latest U.N. appeal. There have been no reports of major donations from other countries.

In the news agency report, North Korea said it needs about 7.84 million tons of grain a year, of which 4.82 million are needed for food and the remainder for animal feed and other use.