立場新聞 Stand News

New agriculture policy: Playing Farmville or getting serious about sustainable land use?

2015/1/6 — 15:14

(編按:博客司馬文質疑政府新的農業政策,目標不明確,形容似「玩 Farmville 」。)

The Government has started consultation on a new agriculture policy.

They propose to create a 80ha mini ‘AgriPark’. After years of calling for a sustainable agriculture in Hong Kong this smells like a red herring.

Rural developers hope infrastructure required for the AgriPark would unlock nearby land for development and are proposing it to be put in or near a country park enclave.

Or is the proposal for a 80ha disneyfied farm project in fact a disguised proposal to rezone all remaining agriculture land for development?

Most of the 4,523 hectares of agricultural land in Hong Kong is hoarded by property developers.

Only 729 ha of this land is under active farming, and primarily by subsistence tenants.

Owners consider agriculture an effective temporary measure to keep the ecological value of their land low with regular vegetation removal / management. Making sure woodland does not mature is critical when seeking to rezone land for development later.

Sustainable and quality farming operations on our agricultural land will only happen once the expectation of future development on agricultural land is removed.

Safeguarding land for agriculture requires certainty of land use designation, planning control over land zoned for agriculture, and a halt to encroachment on agricultural land with development approvals under the small house policy.

The key questions the government fails to raise in the consultation on agriculture policy are:

– Why do we want to safeguard land for agriculture – Food security? Food safety? Letting retired people play “Farmville”?

– How many hectares (between the 80 and 4,523) of our scarce land do we want to protect for agriculture purposes? Where is that land?

– How do we ensure agriculture land is protected and used for agriculture (regulation and enforcement)?

Government website for Public Consultation on The New Agriculture Policy

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