North Korea has updated farming methods and switched crops that could help soften the blow of drought and avert a disastrous food shortage, an aid worker and an analyst said Sunday, after a U.N. official warned of another "huge food deficit."

Impoverished North Korea, which suffered a deadly famine in the 1990s, has seen international food aid fall sharply because of its restrictions on humanitarian workers and reluctance to allow monitoring of food distribution.

Food supplies had since improved and production has been at the highest levels, resulting in the lowest shortfall last year since the mid-2000s, according to independent South Korean studies.