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LCQ7: Promotion of organic farming

     Following is a question by the Hon Andrew Leung and a written reply by the Secretary for Food and Health, Dr Ko Wing-man, in the Legislative Council today (June 15):


     The Agriculture, Fisheries and Conservation Department launched the "Organic Farming Conversion Scheme" in December 2000 to encourage conventional farmers to switch to organic farming.  As at February 2016, there were 556 organic farms in Hong Kong, including traditional family-operated farms, self-claimed organic farms, enterprise-operated farms, and educational/leisure farms.  Last month, the Finance Committee of this Council approved the setting up of a $500 million Sustainable Agricultural Development Fund to provide financial assistance to farmers, so as to enhance the promotion of technological research and manpower training in the agriculture industry, etc.  In this connection, will the Government inform this Council:

(1) whether there are new policies and measures to increase the number of organic farms; if so, of the details; if not, the reasons for that; and

(2) in the coming three years, how the authorities will effectively promote organic farming and provide assistance to those organisations and bodies (such as schools, commercial organisations) which intend to practise organic farming?



     Our consolidated reply relating to the Government's work in promoting organic farming is set out below.  

     In view of increasing public demand for local organic products in recent years, the Agriculture, Fisheries and Conservation Department (AFCD) has been actively supporting farmers engaged in organic farming, as well as encouraging/assisting farmers to adopt organic farming practices away from using chemical pesticides and fertilisers.  In December 2000, AFCD launched the Organic Farming Conversion Scheme (later renamed as the Organic Farming Support Service) to facilitate, through the provision of technical support, local farmers engaged in commercial production to switch from traditional farming to organic farming.  With the implementation of the Scheme, we have seen a steady increase in the number of commercial farms taking on organic farming.  The number of organic farms which participated in the Scheme has grown from 15 farms in two organic production zones in December 2000, to the current total of 282 farms spanning over seven organic production zones in Ng Ka Tsuen, Tai Kong Po, Ping Che, Fanling, Pat Heung, Sheung Shui and Tai Po.

     To promote organic farming, AFCD organises various training programmes focused on technical skills, seminars and workshops, and offers on-site technical advice to help farmers overcome technical problems in production, such as those relating to pest and disease control, horticultural skills, soil fertility management, seed saving, etc.  Besides, AFCD conducts field trials and technical studies with a view to enhancing farmers' productivity and the quality of their products.  AFCD also stands ready to share experience with members of the public in addressing technical issues associated with organic farming.

     In the 2016 Policy Address, the Chief Executive announced that the Government would implement the New Agriculture Policy (NAP).  The NAP is underpinned by a series of support measures that promote the modernisation of local agriculture and its sustainable development, including establishing an Agricultural Park (Agri-Park); exploring the feasibility of designating agricultural priority areas; setting up the Sustainable Agricultural Development Fund (SADF); providing better support and assistance to help farmers move up the value chain in areas such as product marketing and brand building; and developing leisure and educational activities related to agriculture.  Among the various measures, the SADF will provide financial assistance to facilitate modernisation of local agriculture and enhance output and productivity.  Local organic farms may benefit from the SADF through the subsidy provided to acquire farming equipment and materials.  The SADF will also provide funding support to various projects for purposes that include promoting research and development that eases the application of technology to agricultural production, enhancing manpower training, improving agricultural infrastructure, strengthening marketing and branding of local agricultural produce and establishing farmers' markets, etc.  In addition, under the NAP the Government will set up an Agri-Park of around 75-80 hectares to help nurture development in agro-technology and agro-business management.  There will be a designated zone in the Agri-Park for promoting the development and advancement of organic farming.

Ends/Wednesday, June 15, 2016
Issued at HKT 15:08


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