Release that Witch Chapter 826
The Months of Demons this year lasted for nearly five months. By the time murky clouds that overhung the Western Region were dispersed by warm sunbeams, it was late spring.
Roland faced a pressing issue.
It was spring plowing.
Although the war against the Southernmost Region during the Months of Demons, when the other powers were all sort of in a state of dormancy, had won him a lot of time to prelude the unification operation, it was also undeniable that he had consumed tons of food in winter.
Due to the lack of food input and the rapid increase in the population, the food in the granary in the Border Area was, for the first time, exhausted. Roland was secretly happy that he had entrusted the seeds of Golden Ones developed by Leaf to Petrov and had ordered him to promote engineered food to the public right after the seizure of Longsong Stronghold; otherwise, they would not have peacefully made their way through the Months of Demons this year.
The concrete boats traveling between the border and the Longsong area was the lifeline of the First Army, for they transported pancakes made from coarse-grained wheat flour to soldiers fighting at the front.
As a result of the urgency of the matter, Roland convened a spring plowing conference right after the celebration of "Victory Day".
On that day, not only the Ministry of Agriculture but the whole City Hall, including secondary officials in the Longsong area, the district governor, Petrov, and the governor of Fallen Dragon Ridge, Spear, were all summoned to the Neverwinter castle. It should be noted that Spear Passi was directly transferred by Maggie. Ghastly pale and frightened, she complained about her rough flight when she landed and bowed to Roland.
Calvin Kant, the lord of the Northern Region, was absent, but he sent his daughter Edith and his second son Cole to attend the conference on behalf of him. Roland was not sure if it was an illusion, but he noticed, somehow, that the Pearl of the Northern Region had become more radiant since her return from the Great Snow Mountain. Compared with her resplendency, Cole seemed increasingly frail and insignificant. Roland also wondered whether his attire was a little too... androgynous?
Anyhow, the attendees of the conference came from all parts of Graycastle, except the Eastern Region, whose lord had yet to pledge fealty to Roland, and the Central Region, where Roland had yet to establish a well-functioning city hall. Without these two regions, the conference could be considered as the first National Congress.
Roland surveyed the hall in satisfaction and then tapped the desk.
Everybody instantly became silent. All the eyes rested upon the king.
"You must be wondering why I wrote the word 'operation' on the banner." Roland pointed to the red banner on the wall behind him. "Because this is essentially a war. It determines whether we can successfully implement our strategic plan this year and whether we're doing the right thing for people in Neverwinter! I promised to refugees when I took them in that as long as they worked hard, they would never starve."
"In the past three years, I fulfilled my promise. My domain expanded from a small, underdeveloped border town to more than half of the territory of Graycastle. I see no reason that we can't make it happen this year. Our kingdom would only be stable when our subjects aren't worried about food. Therefore, I need every one of you to take spring plowing seriously. All of you have to reach your agricultural production target this year in accordance with the plowing regulations and guidelines drafted by the Ministry of Agriculture." Roland paused for a second and then continued, "Also, starting from this year, there'll be an assessment specifically targeting the agricultural progress in your jurisdiction, which will include evaluations on how much virgin land you've cultivated, the number of farmers in your domain, as well as the agricultural production. These factors will be incorporated into the criteria for a competent governor!"
Perceiving the confusion among all the attendees, Roland smiled faintly. "It's OK you don't know about these evaluation items, because Sirius, the Minister of Agriculture, will later spend one day explaining to you in detail. In conclusion, if you fail to meet my criteria, it tells me that you aren't competent to rule the region and are no longer suitable for the governor position."
Nobody uttered a word, but Roland could clearly sense the tension among them from their expressions.
This was exactly the effect Roland wanted to achieve. The abortion of the feudal system not only meant the cancellation of feudal rights but also meant the abolishment of the hereditary system. Roland allowed those officials to receive benefits from the government, but he would not tolerate any delays of his development plan.
The agriculture assessment was simply a start.
Roland uncovered the curtain behind him, revealing the big red number underneath, and said, "I'll set an easy target for you for the first year in terms of other criteria. But in terms of agricultural production, I want you to reach this number!"
Everyone gasped. "2,500,000 kg?"
Roland was not surprised at their reaction. The average production in this era was 500,000 kg for a mid-sized city and 750,000 for a big one like the old king's city. The first time they had grown Golden Ones in Border Town, the food production was a little over 350,000 kg, which had been considered as an unprecedented big harvest at that time.
Of course, the actual food production was largely influenced by farmland areas and the number of farmers. Unlike Border Town which relied heavily on high-return crops, big cities totally depended on the surrounding villages and small towns, as well as the work of thousands of farmers to obtain such a big quantity of food. Because of this, he decided to include farmland areas and the number of farmers in the evaluation.
The fewer farmers were, the more workers would be in the factory.
Roland signaled everybody to be quiet. "In fact, when you see the testing field for Golden Twos, you'll understand this target isn't that unrealistic. After numerous repeated tests by Leaf, Golden Twos can now yield food more than two times Gold Ones per unit. The wheat-straw in the field is overloaded by ears of wheat."
Petrov exclaimed in surprise. "Your Majesty... is it true that Golden Twos can yield two times more?"
Among all the officials outside Neverwinter, Petrov was the only one who was impressed by the amazing production rate of Golden Ones. During the war in the Months of Demons, the Longsong Area had provided the First Army with over half of the total supplies, thanks to the cultivation of Golden Ones that had generated a huge amount of excess. In comparison, the normal wheat they had previously grown could not even suffice to feed people in one city.
"That's right, but Golden Twos isn't perfect either." Roland looked at Leaf standing next to him and announced, "Now I'll hand over to Miss Leaf from the Witch Union, who will talk about the features of Golden Twos in detail."
After a slight nod, Leaf walked up to him with a bag of grown wheat in her hand and showed it to everybody. She said, "Golden Twos is different from any wheat you've grown before. It can only be grown once. So, you have to come to Neverwinter annually to get new seeds. I've strengthened the root of the plant so that it can absorb nutrition from the soil deep down the earth. That's also the reason it requires a lot of fertilizer; otherwise, we'll have to adopt a fallow system by marking out three farmlands and using them in a rotation. Also..."
Roland stroked his chin in satisfaction while watching Leaf become more confident and comfortable to speak in public. Golden Twos could be viewed as a new type of wheat that produced its own "Jinkela". Its roots could extend four to five meters underground and absorb nutrients more efficiently. Apart from being unable to reproduce, it surpassed Golden Ones in every aspect.
This sole defect of Golden Twos was actually a merit for Neverwinter. As the plant could not reproduce, the other cities would have to rely on the new king's city's supply once they started to grow Golden Twos. At the same time, other low-yield wheat would be obsolete and pushed out of the market. In a sense, Golden Twos enabled Roland to create a food monopoly, and the government would definitely benefit a lot from the control of the food resources.
Roland believed no farmers would want to grow normal wheat again after they tried out Golden Twos.
The promotion of the newly-developed seeds throughout the whole nation would largely alleviate the problem of food deficiency.
With more food... he could feed more people.
Because now, he no longer contented himself with ruling Graycastle only.