Farmers in Yanggang Province are responding positively to the introduction of the Individual Field Responsibility System at several collective farms as it has led to noticeable increases in production.

A source in Yanggang Province told Daily NK on Thursday that the “superiority” of the Individual Field Responsibility System was more noticeable this year with the system in place at a number of collective farms in Pocheon and Unhung counties, among other areas, since last year.

Since North Korean leader Kim Jong Un took power, North Korea has sought to boost agricultural production with the Field Responsibility System, which reduces the size of the bunjo – the smallest production unit of a collective farm – to a family unit of three to five people. Last year, authorities took the system a bit further by designating certain farms in places such as Hyesan, Yanggang Province, as trial zones to adopt the Individual Field Responsibility System, in which individuals autonomously cultivate the land.

According to the source, the administrative committee of one collective farm in Yanggang Province that adopted the Individual Field Responsibility System on a trial basis last year highly praised the results. Redistributing the land prior to farming this year, the committee said that “since the land is being managed privately, it’s grown more fertile because it’s being managed much more economically than when it was managed by the [collective] farm.”

The local management committee this year doubled the area of farmland it distributed to individual farmers from last year. While the committee gave farmers 300 to 500 pyong last year, it gave them 800 to over 1,000 pyong this year.

Prior to the start of the farming season this year, the committee gave farmers a certain amount of potato seeds, fertilizer and pesticide depending on the size of their allotments. In return for the agricultural supplies and land, the farmers agreed to offer three tons of potatoes per 1,000 pyong from their harvest.

Farmer harvest Sariwon
North Korean farmers conducting the fall harvest in Sariwon, North Hwanghae Province. / Image: Rodong Sinmun

As a result, the farm saw a harvest this year of eight to 10 tons of potatoes per 1,000 pyong of land, reporting an average yield of nine tons. When the collective farm managed the land, the same area of land yielded just five tons of potatoes, but with the land distributed to and farmed by individual farmers, there was a notable increase in the harvest, the source said. 

The source noted that a worker from the committee went around to all the private vegetable gardens this harvest season to check the yields and “carried away three tons [of potatoes] on a tractor” based on what was agreed to in the spring.

Pointing to the potatoes harvested by the farmers, the committee gloated that while the potatoes were small when the farm managed the land, “the potatoes had clearly grown bigger with the land being entrusted to individuals.” 

“When the [collective] farm managed the land, if five tons of potatoes were produced, three tons went to the state while the rest were used to obtain seeds or distributed to the farmers,” said the source. “Even if farmers tilled the land every year, they didn’t have enough to eat because they couldn’t get a proper share. Since adopting the Individual Field Responsibility System, however, farmers can now secure enough food for an entire year, even if they give some of their produce to the state.”

The source predicted that if the Individual Field Responsibility System continues next year as well, “the results will get even better.”

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.