It has been four years since the Sepho tableland reclamation project was kicked off.
Tens of thousands of hectares of land that had remained desolate for an age are turning into a socialist livable place to bring happiness to people. Droves of domestic animals are seen grazing on the rolling green hills and the buzzing of farming machines in operation sounds from afar.
‘Dormant’ land The Sepho tableland covers the vast stretches of Kangwon Province including Sepho, Phyonggang and Ichon counties.
The geological conditions of the tableland rising more than 600 metres above sea level were harsh before reclamation. Most of the land was strongly acid basaltic clay or clay loam. When it rained or thawed in spring, the land used to get so muddy because water failed to sink into the ground, remaining on the outer layer of soil. So it was hard even to walk on, to say nothing of farming. The average annual temperature is 7 degrees centigrade, the sunshine rate is no more than 43 percent, and the wind velocity is over 12 metres per second. A recent winter had a knee-deep snowfall. That is why the area is better known for its harsh weather—windy, rainy and snowy. A sheep farm built in the Sepho area.KIM CHOL / THE PYONGYANG TIMES It was President Kim Il Sung who relieved the locals of poverty and famine. He suggested on several occasions that grassland should be created in the tableland to raise domestic animals in a massive way so as to improve the farmers’ living standards, and took a measure to form a livestock farm there. The local people built a mosaic mural to hand down the benevolence shown by the President who had illuminated the future of the tableland even in the hard times of the Fatherland Liberation War.
True to his intention, Chairman Kim Jong Il specified the direction and way of the tableland reclamation and development of animal husbandry. He stressed the need several times to encourage the farming of potato, radish and Jerusalem artichoke in the tableland, rather than grain crops, and reclaim the vast idle land for animal husbandry.
Supreme leader Kim Jong Un took a radical step to build a large-scale livestock farming base by reclaiming the tableland as intended by the great leaders. Accordingly, in December 2012, a gigantic nature-harnessing project was launched to build the base with tens of thousands of hectares of grassland—an unprecedented undertaking in the country’s history of livestock farming.
Many service personnel, workmen, scientists and technicians volunteered for the project, with sincere assistance coming from across the country.
The ennobling intention of the peerlessly great men of Mt Paektu to turn the barren land into a paradise of the people is being translated into reality.
Miracle worked As the saying goes, a decade makes a sea change. But the builders made such a saying sound strange. In a matter of four years, they have undertaken the huge workload that would otherwise have taken them five decades to finish.
They had no experience or expertise in pasture building, but they managed to create vast grassland and build thousands of dwellings, animal sheds and public buildings that befit a modern livestock farming base. Researchers succeeded in breeding superior cattle varieties by adopting embryo transfer and deep frozen semen and securing other breeding stock that have been acclimatized to local climatic and physical conditions.
In December in the first year of the reclamation project the builders were confronted with several challenges: unprecedentedly severe cold, knee-deep snowfall and widespread purple eulalia. The eulalia was a vestige of Japan’s military rule of Korea. Originally, there was not so much eulalia in the area. The Japanese spread the grass there as they built a military horse farm, reducing a vast tract of the area to infertile land for a long period.
The reclaimers started the project with turning over the soil and clearing away the thick stubs of the grass.
“The reclamation was in fact a fight to remove the vestige of Japanese imperialism,” said a reclaimer Pong Won. In the first winter, the workmen rooted out the grass, neutralized the acid soil and increased its fertility. Every year they spread tens of millions of tons of slaked lime, coal ash, sand, hukposan fertilizer and other soil ameliorants.
At present each ridge, once overgrown with eulalia, is carpeted with over ten kinds of nutritious fodder grass such as alfalfa, orchard grass and white clover.
Windbreaks were built to provide favourable ecological environment for the protection of grassland and grazing of domestic animals.
Artificial grass fields have been created at the places with an incline of below 12 degrees and natural grassland at those with steeper gradients and agroforestry has been adopted.
The builders have built thousands of production and public buildings, single-storeyed and low-rise houses and houses for domestic animals and hundreds-of-kilometre-long road for grazing and vehicles.
The construction took less than a year.
High-grade varieties of cattle bred through artificial insemination of Korean cows have been acclimatized and their number is on the increase.
All these things have been created in a matter of four years. A foreign expert who toured a construction site said in admiration that such thing can be planned and done only by the DPRK.
Blessed land Large letters engraved on grassland come into sight after a little walk in the direction of Songsan-ri from Sepho town.
“Thrive, blessed land”
Each carved letter reflects the joy flowing over the tableland that has undergone a sea change in the era of the Workers’ Party, and the expectation that it will continue to thrive.
The remote secluded land that remained idle for thousands of years has turned into a large-scale livestock farming base. In four years solid material and technical foundations have been laid for developing animal husbandry.
What guarantees the future of the tableland is the integration of science and technology with production.
The reclaimers who had no experience in the creation and management of grassland resolved all the problems from the reclamation to the securing of breed animals by relying on science and technology.
In the course of this they were convinced that these are the key to growth in production and held it as a must to combine science and technology with business activities for livestock farming. At present, an integrated control system has been established to manage and conduct all business activities in a comprehensive way.
This system has completed production cycle combining crop farming and animal husbandry and provided a scientific guarantee for ensuring optimal profitability in the operation and management of livestock farming encompassing those of grass fields, soil and anti-epizootic work.
The general production control room transmits and receives all data needed in the operation and management of the livestock farming base in real time and provides unified guidance to the vast areas of Sepho, Phyonggang and Ichon on the basis of the environment monitoring and control system established at each farm. As it is connected with the Sci-Tech Complex and the Hydro-meteorological Service in Pyongyang through the nationwide network, it receives necessary information and weather forecast in time.
The pasture on Sepho tableland is a precious asset guaranteeing the development of animal husbandry in the area. The thousands of hectares of artificial grass fields and tens of thousands of hectares of natural grassland are on a world standard in scale and grass output. And fodder grass amounts to dozens of species including Aeguk grass, orchard grass, red clover, white clover and alfalfa.
Machines and chemicals have been introduced in the management of the grass fields, with the result that fodder grass output is on the rise. All the working processes including furrowing, sowing and gathering are done with the help of tractors, and cultivators are used in place of tractors on the slopes with steep gradients.
Visitors marvel at the neat and cosy public buildings and dwelling houses.
The houses are eye-catching in particular. A mere sight of the roof tile colour tells the viewer what kinds of houses they are. Those crowned with green roofing tiles are dwelling houses combined with animal houses, and those with red tiles are those for pasture keepers. The houses are flawless in every aspect such as structure, area and construction and each of them has a 5-cubic-metre methane gas tank.
Fodder grass is dried and stored on the two-storeyed animal houses.
Reservoirs, fish farming, wind-powered water pumps and turbines add to the scenery.
In Phyonggang County the projects for modern meat-processing and assorted feed factories are nearing completion. The meat-processing factory with an annual capacity of thousands of tons will turn out various processed meat and dairy products.
Everything is beautiful and idyllic on the tableland. Flocks of sheep, cattle and goats float like clouds on the carpet of grass. Production buildings and houses are decorated with red and green roofing tiles, and children play the harmonicas on the green fields, adding to the pastoral mood.
“Sepho tableland is lovely. It will be lovelier in the future,” said a reclaimer Ri Ju Yong.