Since mid-October, farms in North Hamgyung and Yanggang provinces have been at the height of the harvest and post-harvest processing of potatoes. A reporting partner told ASIAPRESS in late October that “members of social organizations, including the Socialist Women's Union of Korea, have been mobilized to take part in the harvest.” Below is an interview with a reporting partner who was mobilized to a farm for the fall harvest. (KANG Ji-won / ISHIMARU Jiro)
◆ Despite the good harvest this year, crops are going rotten in storage facilities
――Where have you been mobilized to?
A farm in Samjiyon County. All members of the Socialist Women's Union of Korea have been mobilized to work on farms.
※ The Socialist Women's Union of Korea is a social organization for women outside of the workforce. Most members are housewives.
―― What kind of work are you doing?
Harvesting and transporting potatoes. We are also cleaning up the fields after the harvest.
―― How was the harvest this year?
The harvest this year was quite good. I heard that an average of 35-37 tons of potatoes were harvested from each jongbo (around one hectare).
In Samjiyon, there is a potato starch production facility, and its storage facility is completely full (of harvested potatoes). But the facility isn’t storing the potatoes correctly, so many are going rotten. I’ve heard that several tons of potatoes are going bad each day.
◆ Food can’t be sold due to lack of packaging materials
―― What does the factory produce?
Right now, the factory is employing people mobilized from the cities to work all day and night and is mainly producing potato starch. Originally, the factory was built to make potato-based noodles and twisted bread sticks, but there’s no supplies to package them so it’s impossible to sell them as products.
―― What kind of food are people mobilized at the farm eating?
The collective farm provides them with potatoes. They can boil or roast them on the farm, but they aren’t allowed to take them back to their residences or sell them.
There is such a lack of people mobilized to work at the farms that the farm managers gave people potatoes to compensate them for the cost of travel to the farms. But there are some farms that have still failed to finish the harvest.
Many companies in Yanggang Province distributed potatoes from the good harvest this year to their employees in October. Workers must go to the fields and transport the potatoes back themselves, but many people welcome this because they are suffering. (End of series)
※ ASIAPRESS communicates with reporting partners through Chinese cell phones smuggled into North Korea.
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