[Photo] Farmers in North Korea’s mountainous regions report poor corn harvest

Photo taken in July 2018 shows condition of corn in Samsu County, Ryanggang Province. Image: Daily NK

As farmers in North Korea’s Pyongan and Hwanghae provinces in the country’s southern region near completion of this year’s harvest, farmers in North Hamgyong, Ryanggang and other northern mountainous provinces are being mobilized en masse for the fall harvest and [grain] threshing activities.

The farmers mobilized for the fall harvest in collective farms are saying that they cannot hope to take home as much of the harvest they enjoyed last year because this year’s corn harvest is so poor, a North Hamgyong Province-based source told Daily NK on October 9.

“Mountainous regions like Musan and Hoeryong in North Hamgyong Province all began the fall harvest from October 4,” he said. “Due to orders from the county business committees, farmers must harvest their own plots last and focus on the fall harvest of the cooperative farms first.”

According to the source, farmers are discovering that one in every three corn stalks (30%) they come across are missing ears of corn altogether or the ears are completely empty. They have also reported that the corn seeds in ears of corn are few and far between and far from being ripe for picking.

The results appear to be due to the climate and farmers are finding that the poor harvest has affected their own individual plots as well. Farmers are claiming that the harvest “is the worst in years,” according to the source.

The North Korean authorities have ordered farmers to provide harvested crops from their own individual plots to meet government-set quotas. This is reportedly causing numerous complaints from the farmers themselves.

In an effort to prevent factors that can negatively impact the fall harvest, the North Korean authorities have warned that anyone caught stealing or selling grains will be severely punished. Despite the government warnings, however, farmers in past years were able to take some of the harvest for themselves. However, this is not the case this year, notes a separate source in North Hamgyong Province.

“Government managers seem to be busy [trying to meet harvest quotas],” he said.

“They are probably very worried because they have to pay back debt for the use of farming materials and also have to take responsibility for planning next year’s harvest.”

“There was so much snowfall in Paekam County and Taehongdan County on October 1 and people are worried about the impact it will have on the wheat fields.The drought [earlier this year] and the early snow means that the harvest this year won’t be good,” a source in Ryanggang Province reported.

“Military vehicles storm onto the farm fields where the people are harvesting the crops and take away the harvest for military bases.”