On-year tuber crop yield holding steady

Corn grown in Ryanggang Province (image from 2017). Image: Daily NK

With collective farms in Mundok County, South Pyongan Province reporting an overall 5% decrease in crop yield from the previous year, farmers in the region are starting to feel the effects of a disastrous harvest season exacerbated by typhoons, a record-breaking heat wave, and torrential rains.

In contrast, parts of Ryanggang Province (an area known for producing potatoes) are showing little to no change in output for certain crops from the year before. The local Rural Farming Management Committee explained the phenomenon by saying that while regular crops have sustained significant losses due to the weather, those that grow underground remain largely unaffected.

“Due to the flooding that occurred this year, hulled grains like barley and corn were quite damaged, but root vegetables like potatoes have been just fine,” a source in Ryanggang Province revealed in a conversation with Daily NK.

“Crop yields for barley and wheat have been lower than expected, causing their market price to rise around 700-800 won. Also, other grains such as millet, glutinous millet, and proso millet have fared rather poorly this season, causing great distress to farmers who invested heavily in planting this season.”  

She added that the crop yield for beans were roughly the same this year. This was attributed to rainfall occurring around the same time that the bean plants were sprouting this year.

“People from other regions are actively trying to barter for or purchase potatoes from Ryanggang Province,”she explained.

Those with a knack for business are trying to buy up as many potatoes as they can in order to resell them at the beginning of spring at marked up prices.  

Another source in Kangwon Province reported that the situation is similar there as well due to effects from the heat wave and typhoons that plagued North Korea this year.

“Several farmers in Kangwon Province are going through the motions of harvesting their crops only to find that the corn kernels have been badly damaged by the weather and left unusable,” he said.

“So farmers that had a decent harvest of sweet potatoes and potatoes this year have been stockpiling their crops.”