North Korean authorities have ordered the Daedonggang Fruit Farm to supply olsagwa (apples that ripen earlier than normal) to residents of Pyongyang to celebrate the country’s Foundation Day (Aug. 9), Daily NK has learned.

The move appears to be related to North Korean leader Kim Jong Un’s call to improve the lives of people in the capital city and is likely aimed at increasing support for the regime in time for the national holiday.

The order, however, has caused “confusion” among farmers because there is a complete lack of apples to supply to the city, according to a Daily NK source in Pyongyang earlier today.

Many of the apples at Daedonggang Fruit Farm fell off the trees before they were ripe due to monsoon rains that hit the country earlier this year, and recent typhoons have damaged the crops even further.

The source told Daily NK that North Korean authorities – seemingly unaware of this situation – ordered the farm to supply one kilogram of apples to each family in Pyongyang for Foundation Day. Farmers have been left in a rut, unsure of what to do.

North Korea had supplied hundreds of tons of the year’s first crop of apples to celebrate the 70th anniversary of Korea’s liberation from Japanese rule in 2015. However, the farm has largely failed to supply apples to city residents because of growing acidification of soil and damage to crops by disease and pests ever since, according to the source.

“The farm had just sent apples to the Central Committee’s Finance Accounting Department and other similar agencies every year,” the source said. “Everyone knows that fruit farming throughout the country hasn’t gone well this year, so the farmers are confused to why the authorities suddenly handed down such a ridiculous order.”

North Korean authorities have also ordered the farm to prepare various kinds of processed foods using apples, such as apple jelly and dried apple crisps, to Pyongyangites by Oct. 10. This, however, is also considered impossible by the farm’s managers.

According to the source, the farm managers are worried that any signs they are failing to do their job could result in their dismissal or demotion. “They are standing at a cross roads – debating whether to tell their superiors about the realities facing the farm,” he added.

The authorities have reportedly told farms throughout the entire country to engage in a “Socialist Competition” (a group competition aimed at encouraging increases in production) to meet specific quotas.

Farmers are saying that the government’s goal is not real competition but to ensure everyone meets their production targets, the source said.

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

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Jong So Yong is one of Daily NK's freelance reporters. Questions about her articles can be directed to dailynkenglish@uni-media.net.