State monopolizes blueberry harvest for export

first_img News By Daily NK – 2016.08.24 6:39pm RELATED ARTICLESMORE FROM AUTHOR News State monopolizes blueberry harvest for export Proposal to shift “general markets” to “specialized markets” finds little support among N. Korean leaders SHARE The authorities in northerly Ryanggang Province have mobilized local students and civilians to pick blueberries for export in order to raise much-needed foreign currency. The stringent oversight surrounding this year’s harvest is drawing complaints from residents of other regions, who are disallowed from participating and therefore deprived of the potential profits.“As in years past, the authorities have called on everyone from elementary school students to college students, workers, farmers, and soldiers to harvest the berries. But this year, people from other provinces are not allowed to participate,” said a source in Ryanggang Province told Daily NK. This news was corroborated by multiple sources in Ryanggang Province.Blueberries, which are used as an ingredient in a variety of foodstuffs, are one of the specialties of the Mt. Paektu region and grow throughout the province. The fruit is then sold cheaply to foreign-currency earning enterprises or processing plants in the local region, where it is processed and exported, namely to China.Historically, residents were allowed to keep any surplus berries to use at their discretion, provided they fulfilled their state-mandated quota. The allure of potential profits drew in annual crowds from across the country.This year, however, with sanctions occluding a number of once viable foreign-currency earning channels, the leadership is desperate to export a larger percentage of the harvest and prevent it from trickling into domestic markets, according to the source.To this end, State Security Department and Ministry of People’s Security personnel have cordoned off pockets with high concentrations of the lucrative fruit with signs stating “off limits for civilians.” Patrol units cover swaths of the surrounding areas to perform random identification checks and send non-Ryanggang residents back from whence they came, and if they are discovered with blueberries on their person, confiscate the supply.“Ryanggang residents are the ones mobilized for berry picking, so they’re still able to make some money from it, but those from other regions have to make sure they’re not caught by monitoring agents,” he explained. “In the past, agents would turn a blind eye to outsiders, but this year—presumably because they’re short on the foreign currency front– they’re being very strict about cracking down.”This is especially distressing for those hailing from far-flung corners of North Korea, some of whom sell the residential rights to their homes to fund the trip to Ryanggang Province, assuming they will recoup their losses with berry sales; however, the heightened regulations and overall political climate looming over this year’s harvest suggest that for many, if not most, the gamble will not pay off.For most, however, the potential benefits still outweigh the outsized risks. “1 kg of blueberries trades for 5-6 RMB and predicted to steadily rise. As a result, [people from outside Ryanggang Province] are expected to take their chances playing cat and mouse with the patrol agents,” he concluded. center_img NewsEconomy AvatarDaily NKQuestions or comments about this article? Contact us at [email protected] North Korea Market Price Update: June 8, 2021 (Rice and USD Exchange Rate Only) US dollar and Chinese reminbi plummet against North Korean won once again News Facebook Twitterlast_img read more