North Korean farmers sent to labor camp for stealing potato seeds
A farmer at a potato farm in Ryanggang Province was recently sent to a forced labor camp for stealing seeds meant for planting, a Daily NK source reported on June 3. The incident provides a glimpse into the difficulties faced during the potato planting season in May.
The farm, a major producer of potatoes located in Taehongdan County, Ryanggang Province, is in an area where locals plant potato seeds for a two-week period starting in early May to ensure the seeds are planted on time. Potatoes in North Korea are important because they can replace rice and wheat and are the major source of calories for some parts of Ryanggang Province.
North Korean farmers refrain from removing the germinal disk from potato seeds and plant potatoes whole to increase yields. The state-run publication Rodong Sinmun recently reported that potato production reached record levels last year.
“There have been many cases where farmers have stolen potato seeds during the ‘potato planting battle’ period,” a source in Ryanggang Province told Daily NK. “The authorities made an example out of two farmers who stole seeds by sending them to a disciplinary labor center for six months.” ......