The yield from this year’s rice grain harvest in South Pyongan Province, North Korea’s main grain-producing region, turned out lower than in the previous year.
“In flat regions like Pyongwon, Sukchon, Mundok and Anju, as well as in grain-producing regions, this year’s harvest was less bountiful than last year,” a source from South Pyongan Province told Daily NK on Monday. Though, he said, “the total yield can only be confirmed after the final thrashing, first projections suggest this year’s yield is considerably lower than last year.”
Daily NK has been able to access the harvest predictions for the Pyongwon region in South Pyongan Province. While a good season brings an average yield of four to five tons, estimates for this year assumes a revenue of only two tons of rice and corn per jongbo (one jongbo equals approximately one hectare) of farm land in Pyongwon County.
In Taepung, Yongsan, Maejon, Samdong and other large farms close to the west coast, the rice and corn harvests did not even amount to two tons, according to Daily NK sources.
ADVERSE WEATHER AND SANCTIONS TO BLAME
Sources have blamed a typhoon in early fall as well as the generally rainy season for the meager harvests. “The typhoon and heavy rainfalls toppled both rice and corn while they were maturing,” he explained.
According to him, farms near the coast were also particularly affected by saltwater damage. He spoke of fields which were “only filled with empty grain heads.”
However, the source also pointed out that “the situation hadn’t been great from the outset.” He talked to a government official working in North Korean agriculture who allegedly told him about a “reduced supply of vinyl covers, fertilizer and pesticides” – a direct consequence of the economic sanctions imposed by the international community.
ANXIETIES ABOUT NEXT YEAR’S HARVEST
A bad harvest year naturally affects the working season of farmers. According to sources, the harvest season in North Korea this year was thus shorter than usual.
Rice harvests and the removal of rice sheaves in South Pyongan Province ended in early November instead of the end of the month or even later, they recalled.
Daily NK previously learned from sources in North Hamgyong Province that many North Korean agriculturists are concerned that – given the poor harvest – next year’s food supply won’t be enough to feed the country’s population. Yet, “the survival and general quality of life of North Koreans depend on their food supply,” a defector told Daily NK.
That’s why “agriculture and farms have to be in the hands of the farmers who need to be able to act autonomously [instead of working on collective farms under state control],” the defector concluded.
*Translated by Violet Kim and edited by Laura Geigenberger
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