N. Korea's COVID-19 outbreak is presenting challenges for agricultural mobilizations - Daily NK
North Korea’s COVID-19 outbreak is causing difficulties in the country’s efforts to mobilize people to plant crops and only limited government support is being provided to agricultural villages due to local lockdowns. A source in South Pyongan Province told Daily NK on Tuesday that “students, soldiers, and workers are heading in groups to agricultural villages to work the fields, but they alone aren’t enough for the labor required. Almost everyone in North Korea stops what they are doing every May when the planting season rolls around, heading to agricultural villages to lend a hand with farming activities. “Prior to the COVID-19 outbreak, the authorities had managed to mobilize everyone as planned, but now they can’t send all those who are needed at the farms,” the source said. In short, after North Korea declared the implementation of a “maximum emergency epidemic prevention system” and implemented lockdowns around the country, interregional labor mobilizations have not been happening as they should. In fact, North Korean agricultural villages have been dealing with labor shortages since March.
In the wake of inter-regional travel bans imposed due to the COVID-19 outbreak, the agricultural labor shortage has grown even worse. Indeed, the source said that authorities cannot fulfill their mobilization targets these days. Moreover, the source said many people are avoiding the mobilizations, adding that “everyone is trying to skip out using COVID-19 as an excuse. He noted that the failure to mobilize sufficient labor to farms is causing major problems for planting crops. Most farms in North Korea are not mechanized, so people have to do the planting manually, the source said. Moreover, due to a lack of vinyl film, seed beds are suffering from severe cold damage, and with the added drought, the young rice plants are not growing enough to plant.
“Planting efforts are facing problems, but the party just tells people to make up for the lack of fertilizer, agricultural chemicals and vinyl film through self-reliance,” he said. Suffering from labor shortages, natural disasters and even supply shortages, North Korea is expected to fall far short of its agricultural production targets this year. Meanwhile, the country is forcing tight quarantine protocols on people who are lending support to agricultural villages. According to the source, the government has set up quarantine checkpoints and is checking the temperatures of people who have been mobilized to the farms. The authorities have also ordered people to “sanitize using salt water and to wear masks,” he added. Please direct any comments or questions about this article to [email protected]
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