Date
26 July 2017
Consumers perfer locally grown vegetables, but due to inadequate support from the government, local produce accounts for just 2 percent of sales. Photos: Danny Chan
Consumers perfer locally grown vegetables, but due to inadequate support from the government, local produce accounts for just 2 percent of sales. Photos: Danny Chan

Why Hong Kong is not producing enough organic vegetables

It all began when Wong Ling couldn’t get into the Vegetable Marketing Organization.

Instead of being discouraged when his produce was dismissed by the group as “too many and too poor”, Wong persevered. He decided to let the public be the judge.

He started giving away his produce for free. He even paid for the transportation costs of customers who came to his farm to pick up the vegetables.

My son learned about it and decided to visit the farm. Now the vegetables are delivered to us twice a week.

Wong’s organic vegetables are always well received. They’re sold out as soon as they hit the shelves.

His crown daisy, for example, is almost always gone on the same day.

I am particularly fond of his cherry tomatoes which are refreshingly sweet and taste heavenly with fried beef dices.

Wong is a dedicated farmer who would not be easily satisfied with what he grows. He would try as many as 50 variants of tomatoes from which he would select and grow the best quality ones.

About 30 percent of people would like to buy locally grown organic produce but it accounts for only 2 percent of sales in Hong Kong, according to some findings.

Amid such shortage, how could it be possible for the VMO to reject local farmers with reasons like “poor sales”?

After this incident, we now have a clear idea if this organisation is competent.

Still, consumers are often cheated. Some of the latest laboratory tests show that most organic vegetables on the market are fake.

Agricultural products labelled as “organic” could cost double or triple the price of non-organic produce.

But the government has done nothing to stop these scams because the authorities are yet to define exactly what “organic” is, let alone bring in the relevant legislation.

What is more disappointing is that devoted farmers like Wong Ling should be receiving more assistance, instead of obstacles, from the government.

Obviously, more needs to be done to develop organic certification for the agricultural industry.

This article appeared in the Hong Kong Economic Journal on March 22.

Translation by John Chui

[Chinese version 中文版]

– Contact us at [email protected]

JC/FC/RA

HKEJ columnist; art, culture and food critic

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