In spite of the severe droughts of the
spring that were followed by severe summer floods in North Korea, the rice harvest has proven
thus far to be particularly good for those tending personal plots of land.
On the 24th, a Daily NK reporter spoke
with a source in Yanggang Province, who informed us that although the Rodong
Sinmun has been urging citizens and the nation on a daily basis to work hard to
restore the damage that resulted from the tempestuous weather earlier in the
year, so far there are no reports of lower-than-average rice harvest numbers.
An additional source in North Hamgyong Province reported the same trend in his region.
Small plot farmers have been particularly
attentive to ensuring that their crops received adequate water supplies, with
many using hand or motorized water pumps and water turbines for irrigation.
“Some people are even saying that as a result of the careful attention paid by
these farmers to protect their crops from the weather, this year’s rice harvest is
looking better than average,” he said.
However, the number of people working hard
to ensure the success of the rice harvests on collective farms is dropping.
This is in large part due to the fact that despite reassurances from the
state that farmers will receive sizable allocations of the harvest for
their own use, for the past several years this has not been the case.
After “repeated failures by the authorities to fulfill stated promises,” he asserted, farmers have
concluded that it makes no difference to them personally whether the collective
farms do well or not.
A bumper year for small farmers in
combination with an average year for collective farm rice harvests has flooded
the markets with rice, driving down prices. After setting aside rice for
their families, farmers bring their extra harvest to sell. Currently, 1kg of
rice is selling for 4880 KPW [0.57 USD] in Pyongyang, 4800 KPW [0.56 USD] in Sinuiju, and 4750 KPW [0.55 USD] in
Hyesan. Prices have dropped 600 KPW [0.07 USD] since last month.
Now that the rice harvest has finished and [collective farm] rice distribution portions for farmers are being calculated,
the price of rice is naturally declining. Although farmers pay some attention
to the portions of the collective farm harvests that they will receive, they
aren’t anticipating much.
According to the source, people say “it’s fine if the harvest is good, it’s
fine if the harvest is bad” because they understand that the amount of the
harvest they will get tends to stay the same regardless.
“We know that the nation’s rice does not
belong to us. We know that it only goes to feed the military, and
People’s Committees cadres,” the source explained.
“This is why the people don’t care about the state
of the collective. We get our own rice either by purchasing it with money we
make from the markets or growing it ourselves on our own small land plots.”