Competition stressed at collective farms

Institute for Far Eastern Studies (IFES)

According to Choson Sinbo, the Japan-based pro-North Korean newspaper, on February 22 in Pyongyang, a self-criticism session focusing on socialist competition was held among model collective farms of the “Songun era.” At this meeting, results of agricultural production at these farms were discussed, and the year 2013 was also officially declared as the year for the “December 12 Space Conquest Award.”

The award was created to commemorate the December 2012 launch of the Kwangmyong-3 satellite and to spur production and competition among organizations in various sectors including science and technology and agriculture.

According to an official from the Union of Agricultural Workers of Korea’s Central Committee, this self-criticism session was conducted to negotiate and make overtures to modernize and incorporate science and technology in the agricultural industry.

The main farms competing in the agriculture sector are Samji River Collective Farm (South Hwanghae Province), Migok Collective Farm (North Hwanghae Province), Sinam and Unhung Collective Farms (North Pyongan Province), and Dongbong Collective Farm (South Hamgyong Province). Among these farms, Samji River Collective Farm received awards from the Central Committee of the Workers’ Party of Korea and the Cabinet last year.

The news added, “The competitive self-criticism and evaluation session has provided an understanding that unsuccessful farming cannot be imputed to only poor seed selection or weather conditions. Modernization and reorganization efforts in the farms must be elevated to encourage competition among organizations in order to meet the production goal.”

On the other hand, North Korea has announced a new policy that limits the individual usage of paddy fields (in the mountains) and vegetable gardens from 30 pyong (99 square meters) to 10 pyong (33 square meters), and requires the remaining 20 pyong (66 square meters) of land to be reverted to collective farms. This would seem to go hand in hand with the June 28 economic measures announced in 2012. These recent measures appear to be a state-level effort to improve the production capacities of collective farms by diverting attention from private farming.

Last year, North Korea delivered the new economic management policy measure (June 28 Measures) nationwide to every region and province. On several occasions, North Korea has attempted to enforce similar measures to limit private farming, attributing the poor production of collective farms to private farming. However, faced with backlashes from its residents, food distribution shortages, and the realities of enforcement forced the government to withdraw from such measures.

North Koreans are not allowed to farm on farmland over 30 pyong (99 square meters) in size; however, many are believed to be farming on pieces of land even larger in size. In the farming villages, some people are believed to be farming on 1,500 pyong (4,959 square meters) of land per household, while some are said to be using over 3,000 pyong (9,917 square meters) of land. The grains produced in these farmlands are mostly corns (1 to 1.5 tons) and other crops including beans, cabbages, radishes, sesame, and wheat.


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