Tobacco farm unit awarded with trip to Pyongyang for surpassing quota

Farmers grow vegetables in a greenhouse in North Korea. Image: Yonhap News Agency

A work unit at the 4.25 Tobacco Farm (Changpyong Farm) in Onsong County, North Hamgyong Province, was awarded a trip to Pyongyang for surpassing its production quota of tobacco leaves this year. The work unit’s team leader was also promoted to head one of the farm’s 8 sections.  

The work unit was the only one to surpass its required production quota following the local government’s setting of expected harvest yields and the government purchasing process and is receiving high honors as a result, a source in Pyongyang told Daily NK on November 13. Most of the tobacco leaves harvested by the work unit received a “Grade A” certification from the government.

“When the assessment of crop yields is done, grades are given out to each work unit. The farmers who received the best scores were sent to Pyongyang to tour famous places, including the Kumsusan Palace of the Sun,” said the source. “They achieved a yield that was higher than the state-set production target and are being praised by the state.”

As a foreign currency-earning organization, the 4.25 Tobacco Farm produces high-quality tobacco leaves and exports them abroad. The halt in mineral exports due to international sanctions has led the government to deploy large numbers of former soldiers to the farm to increase production.

The farm consists of 8 sections and each section has 7 work units. The work unit that received accolades from the government was one of 56 such units at the farm.

A promotion to unit head was also given to a farmer who “showed leadership in his work.”

The head of the work unit that received accolades was a former soldier in his late 30s who reportedly showed interest in the lives of other former soldiers and also ensured that the government-set quotas were met.

“The work unit head received permission to farm in land at the foot of a nearby mountain where tobacco couldn’t previously be grown and had farmers conduct their own farming activities there. He showed leadership in ensuring that the farmers were not lazy and showed up for work,” a source in North Hamgyong Province reported.

“The farmer who just became the head of a work unit, on the other hand, is not even a Party member,” he continued. “It’s rare for that to happen.”

The farmer’s success has been spoken about in glowing terms during a lecture held for farm staff.

Another work unit head, however, was demoted to a regular farmer role because the quality of the leaves his unit harvested was given a “Grade 3,” an additional source in North Hamgyong Province reported.

“The farmers in that work unit conducted their own private business to feed themselves outside of the farm and missed the time to pick the best leaves in the summer. When the harvested leaves were completely dried, they were all deemed to be Grade 3 and the work unit head was blamed for that.”

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