North Korean authorities recently conducted an investigation into a farm producing cabbage for Pyongyang denizens that suffered from poor crop yields due to pests and disease, Daily NK has learned.

“A vegetable farm in Chongpyong County that supplies Pyongyang had a poor cabbage harvest, and the government urgently sent a team to investigate on July 13,” a source from North Hamgyong Province told Daily NK on Monday. 

The farm produces cabbage and cucumber for Pyongyangites, but the cabbage began rotting from the roots and falling apart due to damage from an unidentified disease, along with pests. The farm was, accordingly, only able to meet 40% of its production target.

Since orders to supply vegetables to Pyongyang have come directly from North Korean leader Kim Jong Un, farm workers were fearful they would be punished if they failed to fulfill their obligations. They attempted to salvage the situation on their own, but were ultimately unable to do so and submitted a petition to the authorities on July 6. 

“The farmers had no choice but to report [the problem] to the government because all vegetable farms are busy producing crops [for Pyongyang] following [Kim Jong Un’s] order guaranteeing Pyongyangites vegetables,” the source said.

In the petition, the farmers said that their farm would be unable to supply locals with cabbage due to damage from pests and disease.

They requested that the authorities find ways to resolve the problem, noting that even if the rotting cabbage was quickly harvested and delivered to Pyongyang, it would likely be completely rotten by the time it arrived.

Upon receiving the petition, the authorities quickly formed a team of “plant disease control experts” and sent them to the farm on July 13.

The team soon discovered that instead of purple cabbage seeds, the farm had planted regular large cabbage seeds unsuitable for the local soil. This led to disease and pests appearing on the roots.

“The farm already knew that the large cabbage seeds tend to attract mites on the plant roots during summer, and that only the purple seeds were suitable for the soil,” the source explained. “They were unable, however, to acquire any of the right seeds last year.”

Following the investigation, Chongpyong County’s Rural Management Committee grilled the managers and other staff of the vegetable farm. The farm staff was also punished, although the source was unable to provide any details. 

Farmers are reportedly in the process of fumigating their facilities and turning the rotten cabbage into compost. 

On June 8, Rodong Sinmun noted that the “pressing issue of providing living assistance to the people of Pyongyang was discussed” at a meeting of the Central Committee’s Politburo attended by Kim Jong Un. 

On June 27, Minju Choson reported that the country’s Cabinet met to discuss the “thorough” implementation of tasks presented during the politburo meeting and that efforts to supply Pyongyangites with vegetables was “specifically mentioned.” 

Please direct any comments or questions about this article to dailynkenglish@uni-media.net.

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Kim Yoo Jin is one of Daily NK's freelance journalists. Please direct any questions about his articles to dailynkenglish@uni-media.net.