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Government implements New Agriculture Policy

     The Government will implement the New Agriculture Policy (NAP) to promote the modernisation and sustainable development of local agriculture with a view to maximising its contribution to the well-being of society.

     Unveiled by the Chief Executive as one of the major initiatives in the 2016 Policy Address, the NAP and the package of supportive measures will be implemented progressively in stages.

     The Secretary for Food and Health, Dr Ko Wing-man, said today (January 14) that the value of agricultural development lies not just in its contribution to the economy. It would help meet consumers' demand for quality local fresh produce as an alternative to imported food supply, facilitate better utilisation of farmland, and preserve the rural environment through improving the environmental hygiene conditions and better protection of rural areas. These will contribute to the overall sustainable development of Hong Kong.

     "The essence of the NAP is to promote the modernisation and sustainable development of local agriculture through inducing the enhanced competitiveness of local farms and the use of quality agricultural land for agricultural purposes. The earlier public consultation indicated wide support for the policy direction and the measures that the Government had put up for discussion," he said.

     Key elements of the NAP include:

(1) Setting up an Agricultural Park (Agri-Park):

* To provide for an Agri-Park of 75 to 80 hectares, through resumption of private farmland, to help nurture agro-technology and agro-business, as well as to facilitate knowledge transfer with a view to enhancing productivity.

* A potential site has been identified in Kwu Tung South for such a purpose. An engineering feasibility study will be commissioned shortly to set the initial boundary of the Agri-Park and draw up the detailed implementation plan.

(2) Commissioning a consultancy study on agricultural land:

* To examine the feasibility and merits of identifying and designating Agriculture Priority Areas that have higher value for agricultural activities to facilitate their use for long-term agricultural purposes.

(3) Setting up a $500 million Sustainable Agricultural Development Fund:

* To provide financial support for promoting research and development for application of technology in agricultural production, facilitating the transfer of knowledge, enhancing manpower training, improving agricultural infrastructure, strengthening marketing and branding of local agricultural produce and assisting individual farmers to mechanise and modernise their farming equipment and facilities, as well as for pursuing projects aimed at promoting agricultural rehabilitation.

(4) Exploring ways to facilitate establishment of hydroponics or other similar operations in industrial buildings/zones.

(5) Facilitating leisure farming ancillary to agriculture in terms of planning control and land use.

(6) Enhancing food safety and marketing of local fresh produce:

* To put in place a suitable framework that would not be overly burdensome while enabling the Government to enhance food safety control at source.

* To explore additional marketing channels for local food produce, for example more farmers' markets and new retail or online order collection points.

     "The Government is committed to sustaining agricultural development in Hong Kong. With the adoption of the NAP and the full implementation of the various support measures, we believe that the benefits of agricultural development to society could be more fully realised in time," Dr Ko said.

     Details of the supportive measures and implementation plan of the NAP are in the Annex.

Ends/Thursday, January 14, 2016
Issued at HKT 17:35


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