Political Economy Research will be looking at the North Korean Economy in a series of articles - we start with North Korea's production of food as eighty per cent of North Korea is mountainous with only twenty per cent of land suitable for some type of agriculture and how the Workers Party of Korea is leading the fight for food production.
The DPRK makes effort to establish the Juche orientation in the foodstuff industry to ensure that it depends on domestic materials and meets the requirements of the people’s dietary life.
The foundations of the foodstuff industry have been solidified by keeping the development of the large-scale foodstuff industry in parallel with that of the medium and small-scale foodstuff-processing industry. Raw materials bases have been built up to increase the output of foodstuffs by using the materials abundant in the country, and close concern is directed to mass-producing essential and subsidiary foodstuffs and ensuring their better quality.
The principle of making production proportional to consumption with the county as a unit has been maintained to build up the foodstuff factories that contribute to improving the county residents’ dietary life and equip their production lines with modern machinery.
The Pyongyang Wheat Flour Processing Factory has renovated the buildings of several workshops introduced CNC technology in the production lines and made them germ-free. The Pyongyang Cornstarch Factory has updated all its production lines ranging from the input of raw materials to packaging. The Sonhung Foodstuff Factory, Susongchon General Foodstuff Factory, Kangso Mineral Water Factory and other foodstuff producers and speciality-processing plants pay off.
The Changsong Foodstuff Factory, a locally-run factory, has built a supercritical extraction line in a modern fashion.
The DPRK makes great efforts to produce plenty of high-quality, useful goods by developing the daily necessities industry.
It has developed large-scale central industry and medium- and small-scale local industry in parallel,tapping domestic materials to the full to increase the variety of daily necessities and improve their quality.
The DPRK has since long ago kept it as an important principle of socialist economic construction to develop central industry and local industry in parallel.
Changsong County in North Phyongan Province was transformed into a model unit of local industry. On the basis of the achievements made in the county, locally run factories mushroomed and sideline production gained momentum; mountainous regions made good use of mountains, coastal regions utilized coasts effectively.
With the growth of local industry the urban-rural gap has been narrowed and all the regions of the country developed evenly.
The DPRK’s agriculture was extricated from centuries-old backwardness. Now, along with industry, it constitutes one of the major components of the national economy.
Recently the country has made significant progress in agricultural production and the development of agricultural science and technology: arranging crops and their strains on the principle of sowing the right crop on the right soil and cultivating the right crop in the right season, as demanded by the Juche farming method, and manuring and cultivating them in a scientific and technological way; developing high-yielding, superior seeds; carrying out large-scale land-realignment projects and attaining a high level of irrigation in the rural economy; promoting potato, soybean and double cropping extensively; encouraging organic farming and establishing food production cycle; putting all the processes of the rural economy on an industrial and modern footing by introducing the latest advances in science and technology.
The state makes constant efforts to develop agriculture and increases investment in this sector.
New Agricultural Guidance System
In early 1962 Kim Il Sung had a cooperative farm management committee set up in every county, and then a rural economy committee in every province, thereby establishing a well-knit national system of agricultural guidance from the centre to the lowest levels.The new agricultural guidance system centred on the county cooperative farm management committee, makes it possible to ensure industrial guidance over the socialist rural economy.
The county cooperative farm management committee exercises unified control over agro-technicians, farming machine stations, farming implements factories,irrigation management stations and other state-owned enterprises in the service of the rural economy, and gives on-site direction and guidance over the business operation of cooperative farms. It also performs the function of both directing cooperative farms and bringing the state’s material and technological assistance to the rural economy.
Sub-Workteam Management System
Kim Il Sung created a sub-work team management system during his field guidance at the Phochon Cooperative Farm, Hoeyang County, Kangwon Province, in May 1965.
Under this system manpower and various means of production are fixed for each sub-workteam, which is the lowest unit of production and manpower organization at a cooperative farm and the cell of a collective life. The quota is defined for each sub-workteam and the work-points of its members are assessed according to the results of their work done, before determining the share of distribution.
The system is a form of production organization and management that enables farmers to take an active part in the production and management with a feeling of attachment to the collective economy and an attitude befitting masters.
The plot responsibility system that has recently been instituted according to the sub-workteam management system pays off as it enables farmers to have a higher degree of consciousness of being masters of the land who are responsible for the country’s cereals production.
Juche Farming Method
The Juche farming method created by Kim Il Sung is geared to doing farming in a scientific and technological way as suited to the climate and soil of the country and the biological features of agricultural crops, and to making agricultural production highly intensive on the basis of modern science and technology.
The fundamental requirement of this method is to arrange crops and their strains according to the geographical characteristics on the principle of sowing the right crop on the right soil and cultivating the right crop in the right season, manure and cultivate them in a scientific and technological way, ensure accuracy in the number of seedlings in a cluster and the number of clusters per phyong, and attain high and stable yields by making effective use of the fields, water, farming machinery, fertilizer and other means of production.
The DPRK’s agricultural sector is putting great emphasis on breeding good seeds that are suitable to the local climate and soil, those capable of yielding abundantly while demanding less fertilizer and shorter growth period and withstanding the cold, and of resisting pests and natural calamities such as drought, rainstorm and biting cold. Due concern is directed to importing high-yielding seeds from other countries. In addition to crop cultivation, all other sectors of the rural economy such as animal husbandry, fruit farming and sericulture carry on the seed revolution.According to the well-regulated national seed selecting system, seed research institutes develop the first filial generation and other superior seeds and supply them to cooperative farms across the country.
Agricultural Science and Technology
The DPRK set it as the major task for developing its agricultural science and technology to realize comprehensive mechanization of the rural economy, find proper solutions to the problems that arise in the research to develop agriculture, and radically raise the scientific and technological level of agricultural workers.
Amid the dynamic campaign to develop agricultural science and technology, the mechanization and chemicalization of the rural economy have been promoted, many scientific and technological problems arising in agricultural production resolved, and the scientific and technological level of farmers improved. Latest models of tractors and other high-performance farming machines have been supplied, and advanced farming techniques and methods introduced in the farms all over the country.
Among the models of scientific farming are the Migok Cooperative Farm in Sariwon, Sinam Cooperative Farm in Ryongchon County, Samjigang Cooperative Farm in Jaeryong County and Tongbong Cooperative Farm in Hamju County.
The DPRK pushed ahead with land realignment as a grand nature-harnessing project and a patriotic work of everlasting importance to increase agricultural production by obtaining new land, free farmers from hard labour by realizing comprehensive mechanization of the rural economy, eliminate once and for all the remnants of feudal land ownership, and hand over to posterity the land transformed as befits that of socialist Korea.
Kim Jong Il decided to launch land realignment in Kangwon Province, which was lagging behind other provinces in this regard and had unfavourable working conditions, and generalize the experience to transform the landscape of the country.
In hearty response to his appeal all the people turned out in the land realignment projects, with the result that in a few years hundreds of thousands of hectares of paddy and non-paddy fields were repartitioned into large standardized plots as befits the land of the socialist state.
Large-scale irrigation systems, including the Phyongnam, Kiyang, Amnokgang, Sohungho and Singye irrigation systems, ramify throughout the country. These irrigation systems cover all the paddy and nonpaddy fields in both lowland and highland regions.
Major irrigation systems have been interconnected in a circular way. Pumping-up irrigation systems, or gravitational waterways where appropriate, have been built according to the regional characteristics.
At first irrigation systems were built separately in the regions and then connected with one another to form a loop.
In the new century the Kaechon-Lake Thaesong, Paengma-Cholsan, Miru Plain and other large-scale gravitational waterways have been built one after another. As a result, the country’s irrigation network has been developed to a higher level.
Gravitational waterways are built on the basis of the physical property of water that flows downward. The completion of gravitational waterway projects in the DPRK marks a new milestone in its irrigation history.Typical of them are the Kaechon-Lake Thaesong,Paengma-Cholsan and Miru Plain waterways.
The Kaechon-Lake Thaesong Waterway, built in 2002, flows along the 150-odd-km channel with a 23m difference in elevation, irrigating more than a hundred thousand hectares of paddy and non-paddy fields in 15 towns, counties and districts of South Phyongan Province, including Pyongyang and Nampho.
The total length of the gravitational waterways in the country is thousands of ri (ten ri equals 4km).
Now a large waterway in South Hwanghae Province and another connecting the irrigation network in South Phyongan Province with the Chongchon River are being built.
The completion of these projects will signify the full establishment of the gravitational waterway system for the fertile farmland along the west coast, which has a large share in the country’s cereals production. In other provinces, towns and counties they are striving to build gravitational waterways of varying lengths in conformity with their local conditions.
The DPRK has a limited area of land under cultivation as mountains constitute nearly 80% of its territory. Tideland reclamation is crucial in expanding the area of arable land.
As early as the 1980s, the state worked out a plan for reclaiming hundreds of thousands of hectares of tideland, transforming into fertile fields the Tasado, Kwaksan (first stage), Sokhwa and other tidelands with favourable conditions on the west coast.
Reclaimed in 2010 was the Taegyedo tideland the size of a county. The project was the biggest of its kind in the country.
Now under way are the Kwaksan (second stage), Ryongmaedo, Honggondo and several other tideland reclamation projects.
The Taegyedo project reclaiming 8 800 hectares of tidal flat, the biggest of its kind in the country, was finished in July 2010.
As a result, several islands scattered on the west coast were linked by a dam tens of kilometres long and the meandering coastline was shortened remarkably,redrawing the country’s map.
Now the tideland has become a comprehensive agricultural base, rendering a tangible contribution to improving the people’s standard of living–a vast expanse of crop cultivation area, fish farm covering an area of 100 hectares, salt works, modernly-equipped duck and oyster farms, and ponds teeming with flatfish and other species.
The Korean Association for the Development of Organic Agriculture works according to the Law of the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea on Organic Industry. Microbial compound fertilizer factories number several hundreds, and organic fertilizer factories are in Sukchon County, South Phyongan Province, and other parts of the country. The organic compound fertilizer factory in Pyongyang depends on the mud from the Pothong River. Model units have been set up in some farms for the purpose of establishing an organic farming system and introducing advanced technology, and modern livestock farms built in different parts.
This has resulted in the establishment of a food production cycle.The methods of using mud snails in growing rice and introducing biological pesticide and other substances have been applied in cultivating and manuring the crops, thus strengthening pest control, saving manpower and
The DPRK is promoting cooperation and exchange with relevant international organizations. It acceded to the IFOAM in 2005 and is carrying on the project of building a bridge for the diffusion of knowledge about organic farming and increasing the capacity for the development of organic farming.
The DPRK has brought about a fresh tubrn in crop cultivation by applying the Juche farming method to the letter.
It lays special emphasis on effecting the seed revolution, encouraging the double cropping based on the principle of grain with grain and making a radical improvement in potato and soybean farming.
The DPRK pays close concern to supplying the people with plenty of fresh vegetables all the year round. There are many vegetable farms and work teams around cities and workers’ districts.
The fields for vegetable growing have been selected on the principle of sowing the right crop on the right soil and cultivating the right crop in the right season, and high-yielding seeds, appropriate watering systems, cultivation on terraces and multiple cropping have been introduced to meet the demand according to different seasons.
Taking seasonal characteristics into account,appropriate crops are selected to ensure sustained production, while hotbed and greenhouse cultivation is encouraged by radically increasing the number of modernly-equipped greenhouses.
Arched or adobe greenhouses covered with PVC sheeting, solar-heated greenhouses with a food production cycle and many other models of greenhouses have been built to ensure a high level of scientific and intensive cultivation.
It is an important policy of the DPRK government to provide the people with adequate amounts of tasty, nutritious mushrooms by putting mushroom production on an industrial and scientific footing.
Close attention has been directed to the research into mushroom cultivation. The Central Mushroom Institute has been newly built under the State Academy of Sciences to distribute original spores and cultivation techniques across the country. Modern mushroom farms have been built in Pyongyang and every province. Also, individual families grow mushrooms to improve their standard of living.
Industrial Crop Farming
The DPRK pays due concern to industrial crop farming, while focusing on cereals production. In order to meet the demand for raw materials of light industry industrial crops are planted intensively on the right soil, and fibre and oil-bearing crops are cultivated extensively, as well as crops for luxury items, medical use and other purposes.
Efforts are made to estimate the demand for each crop, fix the area suitable for its cultivation and the volume of production there, and to put production on a specialized, intensive basis by forming separate workteams and sub-workteams.
Such oil-bearing crops as perilla, sesame, sunflower and rape are sown on idle land, or sometimes arable land, and tended with care to increase their per-hectare
The livestock farming sector strives to solve the problem of domestic breeds and their feed, rear them scientifically, and adopt comprehensive anti-epizootic measures so as to boost livestock production. A mass drive is being conducted to raise grass-eating domestic animals, and collective livestock farming developed at cooperative farms and individual livestock farming in rural households, so that every place seethes with livestock farming.
The Youth Goat Farm in Hamhung, Unjong
Livestock Cooperative Farm in North Hwanghae Province, Kyenam Livestock Farm in South Hwanghae Province and other farms have been laid out as model units in livestock farming, and the successes and experiences gained in their work are being generalized across the country. Production is increasing at the Kanggye Chicken Farm and other modern livestock farms.
They have laid solid foundations for radically increasing the number of livestock by introducing advanced rearing techniques, resolving many scientific and technological problems, improving veterinary and anti-epizootic work, and boosting the output of nutritious, high-yielding crops for animal fodder.
Ostrich farming is in full swing.
The Sepho area is being turned into a large-scale livestock farming base.
The DPRK has newly set up a mechanism for the guidance of the fruit-growing sector and increases state investment in it to put production on a specialized,intensive footing.
Orchards of varying sizes have been built in large numbers, and dwarf apple trees and other good species arranged properly to boost the output. The processing and storage facilities have been updated to ensure enough supply of tasty, nutritious fruits and their processed products for the people.
Following the construction of the Taedonggang Combined Fruit Farm in Pyongyang, the material and technological foundations of the fruit farms in Kwail County, Pukchong County and other regions have been cemented, so that they can produce dozens of tons per hectare.
Recently, Kosan in Kangwon Province is being turned into a modern combined fruit farm.
The DPRK has consolidated the foundations for putting cocoon production on a highly specialized,intensive and modern footing—a vast expanse of mulberry fields and modern sericultural facilities in the regions with favourable conditions, and breeding new species of mulberries and silkworms.
The per-hectare yield of cocoons is rising at many farms including the Manpho Cocoon Farm in Jagang Province, Osan Cooperative Farm in Jongju, North Phyongan Province, and Sahyon Cooperative Farm in Kumya County, South Hamgyong Province.