Kim Jong-un’s speech on animal husbandry

North Korean media reports that on January 28, 2015, Kim jong-un delivered a speech to senior officials of the party and state economic agencies titled, “Let Us Expedite the Construction of the Livestock Farming Base in the Sepho Area and Bring about a New Turn in Developing Animal Husbandry”.

The western media that reported on the speech primarily latched onto a phrase used a the beginning where Kim Jong-un admitted to problems sleeping at night when he thinks about his people:

Whenever I am reminded of my failure to provide a rich life to these laudable people, who, in spite of their difficult living conditions, have firmly trusted and followed only our Party and remained faithful to their pure sense of moral obligation to the great Comrades Kim Il Sung and Kim Jong Il, I cannot get sleep.

The majority of the speech, however, focuses on the development of the Sepho Tableland Stock-breeding Project. It does not appear to be going well. Kim opens with these optimistic words:

This is the first time for our country to create pastures covering tens of thousands of hectares and build a large-scale livestock farming base. Though they are inexperienced and many things are in short supply, the builders of the large-scale livestock farming base in the Sepho area are creating miracles and innovations to the wonder and admiration of all by giving full play to the fighting spirit of self-reliance and fortitude. The service personnel of the People’s Army and shock-brigade members, who have gone to the Sepho area in hearty response to the Party’s call, have created tens of thousands of hectares of pastures in a short period, taking up the challenges of Nature, and overfulfilled the last year’s target of grass production. Great successes have also been achieved in the road work and the construction of dwelling houses, animal sheds, public buildings and other structures.

Following these words, however, is a cascade of complaints and problems he wants resolved: Shortages of supplies for workers, poor soil, unsuitable grass for animals, strong winds, shortage of capital for investment in buildings, transport and production. There are also shortages of livestock, livestock feed, and technicians.

Kim then moves onto other problems with the nation’s livestock breeding enterprises.  He states:

We should normalize production at the modern livestock farming bases built under the Party’s leadership. […] several of them are not functioning properly because officials failed to take measures necessary for their normal operation after they were built.

So apparently many of the country’s livestock farms are incapable of turning out a regular [predictable] quantity of protein. Of course there is no data here, so we do not know if there is a problem with production or whether there is a problem with the production finding its way to official distribution channels. Either way, the Party Center is not pleased.

Kim Jong-un offered a laundry list of technological fixes to these problems:

“In order to develop livestock farming, it is necessary to solve the problems of animal breeds and their feed, improve the methods of raising them and take thoroughgoing veterinary and anti-epizootic measures.”

But little about enterprise management, or how it can be improved, is discussed in detail. For example Kim still officially believes that patriotism and propaganda campaigns can lead to sustained improvements in output:

“Party organizations at all levels, those in the stockbreeding sector in particular, should conduct a proactive political offensive to rouse officials and working people to carry out the Party’s line on animal husbandry. They should implant in their hearts the ennobling love for the people cherished by the General all his life, so that they will all turn out enthusiastically to carry out the Party’s policy. They should give wide publicity to the units and working people that do livestock farming with all consistency and enjoy benefits from it, and generalize their experiences.”

However, the speech was not entirely depressing from an economic perspective. Kim did reference private livestock farming as one option that could be encouraged to mitigate supply problems with the official agriculture sector:

“Private livestock farming at rural households should be encouraged. Every house teeming with domestic animals adds to the socialist rural scenery. Rural households should be encouraged to raise large numbers of pigs, goats, rabbits, chicken and other kinds of domestic animals so as to augment their income and enrich their lives.”

I have made a PDF of the entire speech and you can read it here.

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