North Korea is making an effort to overcome its food shortages by expanding its greenhouse-based vegetable and fruit production industry, Daily NK sources recently reported.
For example, Haeju strawberries, once regarded as a specialty of that area, are now grown throughout the country in greenhouses. North Koreans no longer need to make huge batches of kimchi to get through the winter; now they can just purchase greenhouse-grown Napa cabbage, Korean radish, cucumber, eggplant and more in local markets all-year-round.
Daily NK sources recently reported, however, that of the many vegetables cultivated in greenhouses, garlic chives are one of the most popular.
“Garlic chives grown in Pyongsong, Pyongyang, and Yangdok County are popular in the markets,” a Pyongyang-based source recently told Daily NK.
“North Koreans have a lot of dumplings to celebrate the new year, the Great Full Moon [first full moon of the lunar new year] and Kim Jong Il’s birthday [Jan. 8]. Dumplings taste so much better with garlic chives in them,” he added.
MORE PUCHO FOR THE PEOPLE
In North Korea, garlic chives are called pucho as opposed to buchu, a term used commonly in South Korea. Although pucho is the standard term for garlic chives in the country, some North Koreans refer to them as manulpa, or literally “garlic leeks.”
Garlic chives are generally planted in the spring and harvested in the fall, but now North Koreans have access to fresh greenhouse-grown garlic chives in the winter.
“Last season we cultivated pucho in the open air, but now we just cultivate them inside the greenhouses, regardless of the season,” one source told Daily NK. “They’re nutritious and fragrant so a lot of North Koreans enjoy them in their winter dishes.”
“Families love putting garlic chives into dumplings eaten during the holidays because they enhance their taste,” he added.
North Korea’s government appears intent to extol the benefits of garlic chives. A North Korean document acquired by Daily NK last year remarked: “Pucho is a perennial green in the garlic family, nutritionally dense and with a unique scent and flavor. It protects against cerebral hemorrhage and the hardening of the arteries, and is effective in preventing as well as treating bronchitis, neurasthenia, hemorrhage and skin infections. It is particularly effective in protecting and improving one’s health.”
Sources told Daily NK that, in general, greenhouse vegetables cultivated in the winter are pricier than those grown during other seasons.
SOLVING NORTH KOREA’S FOOD PROBLEMS
Farms are building more greenhouses to cultivate garlic chives in the winter to meet growing demand of North Koreans seeking fresh vegetables.
Areas outside of major cities like Pyongyang and Pyongsong, however, will likely have trouble producing enough greenhouse-cultivated vegetables to meet demand, sources said.
The Pyongyang Vegetable Science Institute is reportedly providing general “technical support” for greenhouse-based cultivation in the provinces. The lack of materials and expertise, however, make it extremely difficult for isolated farms to build and maintain greenhouses, sources reported.
Nonetheless, North Korean leader Kim Jong Un has focused heavily on the cultivation of greenhouse vegetables as a solution to North Korea’s food shortages.
After ordering the construction of a large-scale greenhouse complex in Gyongsong County, North Hamgyong Province, he paid the construction site a visit last October.
North Korean state media has also been praising the benefits of greenhouses and the pucho they cultivate.
“Several years ago, there was a story on [North Korean] television about a state-run company that cultivated garlic chives and gave their employees a share of the crops,” said a source.
“These days, farms, enterprises and even the military have their own greenhouses to cultivate pucho,” she added.
*Translated by Violet Kim
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