Chapter 138 Establishment of the Ministry of Agriculture
The Forest south of the Redwater River had been nearly been fully cleared out, and the day to start with its cultivation was getting ever closer.
In order to facilitate the people who were crossing over the Redwater River, Roland had commissioned for a nearly one-hundred-meter-long pontoon to be used. The pontoon was created from tens of wooden rafts, which were connected together with thick hemp ropes. He had also specially ordered for the carpenters to build the rafts both of the ends being pointed, in this way minimizing this the amount of water resistance as far as possible. The hemp rope had been tied around four wooden pillars on both sides of the river, fixing the rafts position together as far as possible. Between each raft laid four long planks with one end of it on each deck, they were two meters long and together they were four-meter wide from side to side.
A pontoon built out of rafts was very simple to set up, yet its service time wasn’t as short as would be expected. As long as the water level didn’t rise or fall by too much, which could lead to the wearing out of the hemp rope. The pontoon could easily be used for two or three years – the trees of the forest was an excellent material. For example, the Border Town’s pier was a good indicator and built out of the giant trees of the forest, it was nearly as old as the town itself by now. Despite the fact that walking on top of would give off a creaking sound, it still didn’t show any sign that it would collapse.
On the western side of the pontoon, the first part of the reclaimed land of the forest became Leaves’ testing area. Now that they were no longer surrounded by the forest, it had now been tidily enclosed by the members of the First Army. During these past few days with the exception of eating, going to school and sleeping, Leaves spent all of her time here inside of her garden. Out of the window in his third story office, Roland could faintly overlook the scene in this wooden enclosure – where the wheat was growing at a crazy rate, while in the morning there would only be green seedlings, and in the afternoon the whole area has turned into a golden wheat sea.
When relying on magic, her Golden Ones would only need one day after being planted to become ready to be harvest, if this was to be seen by an outsiders, they would surely fall to their knees in disbelief and cry out “Miracle, truly this must be a miracle”.
Seeing that the land, the population, and the seeds had all been set, Roland decided that it was time to decide on the last element— the custodian.
He called his constantly busy assistant minister Barov.
And when he entered his office, Roland asked him: “Your chief apprentice should be able to take over by now, right? I need to set up two new departments at the Town Hall.”
“Your Royal Highness, this is… our manpower is not enough for this.” Barov insisted.
Previously you would always first agree with me and only later would we slowly work out the details. But now it seems you always directly start with complaining. Roland secretly criticized his assistant minister, but on his face, nothing could be seen of his thoughts, “How can it not be enough, didn’t I recently allocated a group of knights to you?”
During his preliminary round of screening, Roland had discovered that more than 50 knights met his requirements of reading and writing. Naturally, that would be too many teachers, so after once more screening for the best ones, he finally selected nine knights as junior teachers, and assigned all the others as apprentices in the Town Hall.
“Your Royal Highness, those people are totally lazy and dragging their feet on every job, their response time is also very slow and by the time they finally manage to copy over some information, they even end up making a lot of mistakes, in the end they are simply unqualified to become apprentices.”
“How to discipline them is up to you,” Roland slammed the table, “If they bluntly disobey the arrangement, send them directly to the North Slope Mine! But these two departments must be set up!”
“Well, Your Highness, you will always have the final say.” Barov gave up helplessly.
Roland said: “The first is the Ministry of Agriculture, which will be responsible for supervising the agricultural territory and the planting process.”
Barov was immediately stunned, it was the first time that he heard that the Town’s Hall was even responsible for managing food production, “Your Highness, shouldn’t this matter be directly decided by the serfs themselves? We have nothing to do with how much and what they decide to plant, we are only responsible for making sure that all their taxes are paid in full.”
“That’s exactly the reason why you… no, I mean why the crop’s we harvest in the past was so low.” Roland quickly took his cup and drank some water, trying to cover up his slip of the tongue, “The Town Hall should be responsible for taking care that everyone has enough to eat and drink.”
“Let everyone have enough to eat and drink… certainly you must be joking, right?”
“Of course not, how important it is that everyone should have something to eat and drink doesn’t even need to be said, if the town’s hall is unable to ensure that everyone has enough to eat, then they aren’t doing their job, but by then I will also be guilty of neglecting my duty. As for the latter part, wasn’t the public toilet project started for exactly this purpose?” Roland no longer spoke in a relaxed voice, and instead seriously said, “I don’t know how the Capital’s City Hall used to handle this, perhaps the life and death of the civilians do not matter so much to them, but here in Border Town, I want to implement a holistic political organization. It is absolutely necessary that the people in my territory know about it so that they will wholeheartedly support us, and we can easily keep on governing them. At present, it is important that we create this ministry and have them undertake this mission.”
“Understood, Your Highness.” Barov said as he had to wipe the sweat from his forehead.
“You will go to the archives and look for three or four people who are experienced farmers and can work in the Ministry of Agriculture, and you will then choose two of your own apprentices who will be in charge of the keeping the records and statistics, finally forming a group of six people.”
“Wait… you want those civilians to become Town’s Hall officials?” Barov looked shocked at the idea.
“Not only are they obedient, they are even more likely to work with plenty of enthusiasm, so why shouldn’t they serve as officials? Officials aren’t equal to nobles, and the Ministry of Agriculture also need some professionals farmers to guide the future generation.”
“Most of them do not even know how to read or write…”
“That is exactly the reason why you have to send two of your apprentices out there, they will go along to do the paperwork,” Roland directly interrupted.
“And this problem won’t exist for too much longer. I’m going to implement an educational program for everyone soon, or at least that is the plan for now. By then nearly all of the people will be able to read and write and you will no longer have to worry about whether you won’t have enough hands.”
Obviously, the message that civilians would start to work in the Town Hall was an enormous surprise for Barov, his mouth was slightly open and for a long time he was unable to say another word.
Roland, disregarding whether Barov could accept it or not, just continued with giving his speech: “Back to the topic of setting up the Ministry of Agriculture, when the serfs began to farm their own land, it’s bound to happen that they will use various kinds of methods, for example how deep they will plow the soil will all be done differently.
This is an excellent opportunity for observation, so the Ministry of Agriculture should split all the farms into groups of six and each member of the ministry will record every step taken by his designated farmers. Things like how deep they plow, what kind of planting interval they use and so on. It will be necessary that they work on it in as detailed a manner as possible, and that all of them will get some measuring tools and be taught on how to use them.
“You mean we are going to measure their… contrast?” Barov was clearly old fashioned in some areas, but he was definitely a quick thinker overall.
“That’s right, for the first time, it was needless to care too much about the harvest. We will still maintain importing the food as we have been… furthermore, we will also start to use some new wheat seeds to make sure that no one has to starve anymore. The job of the Ministry of Agriculture is to find the best method to planting, and later they have to promote, teach and supervise the way in which wheat is planted in the future .
Roland didn’t know much about farming, but this did not prevent him from using a scientific approach to summarize a set of optimal solutions. With this program, both the expansion of the cultivated area, or to add several new kinds of seeds to try, would help him to raise the average output to a whole new level.
Barov nodded at first but then he hesitated and after a while, he finally asked, “Your Highness, there is one thing that I don’t understand, when the serfs are promoted to free people, why will you only charge them 20% of their harvest as a tax? Even if you asked them to hand over 50%, letting them keep 50% for themselves, you would still be seen as extremely benevolent.”
“Because there is no meaning in hoarding all the money in the basement,” Roland explained, “When I need more than the 20%, I will buy the rest of the food from them at a fixed price – in Border Town, the trade with food only belongs to the right of the Lord. They have to deliver all the food to the castle and will be paid for it. After some saving they will most likely want to buy things like cattle, iron tools, beef, cotton clothes, and good brick houses. And all of this can only be provided by me for the town’s people, if they want to buy food it will be the same thing for them, they can only buy it from the castle. In this way, the coin will still flow back into my pocket, but as long as it is cycling, it will be able to raise everyone’s standard of living. Are you able to follow me with this?”
Barov wore a frowning expression, it was clear that he was still caught up in processing this information.
Roland smiled and shook his head, “It isn’t a problem if you don’t understand it yet, you can go back and think about it later, at the moment it is more important that you follow my orders.”
Hearing this the assistant minister stood up as if he were in trance, but when he reached for the door, he suddenly looked back.
“Your highness, you just said you want to build two departments, what is the other one?”
“The Ministry of Education,” Roland replied, “However, for that I will be the one personally responsible.”