"How farm tech can cultivate a new generation of innovators in Hong Kong"

Hong Kong has a lot going for it when it comes to farming and farm tech. The landscape of modern skyscrapers and a fast-paced urban metropolis belie the reality that its geography, weather, infrastructure and a consumer base that loves to eat are all advantageous when it  comes to tapping into the fast-growing agtech sector, writes Amy Wu in the South China Morning Post.

While farming is rarely, if ever, considered sexy – finance, trade, and tourism have historically been the flagship sectors in Hong Kong – everyone eats. Many of us love to eat. Hong Kong is a prime location for food and top-tier restaurants in the Asia-Pacific.
 
Hong Kong has considerable advantages when it comes to the agtech sector, and these are often overlooked. While the city itself has very dense areas of population and buildings, much of Hong Kong is a landscape of wide-open spaces in the New Territories. The weather is excellent for farming with ample sunshine and plentiful rainfall. A family member who is a backyard gardener is astute in pointing out the growing season is 365 days a year, which means frosts are rare.

At the same time, the amount of food produced and consumed locally is relatively low, with some 92 percent of Hong Kong’s fresh vegetables and 97 percent of its live freshwater fish imported from mainland China. The bottom line is that there is an untapped opportunity for a new generation in their 20s and 30s to produce food locally. It will take the combined efforts of the government, private business, growers, and educational institutions to make that happen.
 
To start with, we should make food and farming a priority when it comes to economic growth. We should consider the possibility of connecting tourism with eco-tourism or agritourism. There is an enormous opportunity to leverage the farm-to-table movement
 among restaurants and local eateries.

The pandemic has fueled a growing interest from consumers internationally, including in big cities, about where their food is grown, who is growing it, how it is grown, and how it is distributed. There is a small but growing contingent of backyard gardeners, landowners and conservationists who are passionate about amplifying sustainable agriculture and regenerative farming practices in Hong Kong.

There are signs things are heading in the right direction. At the annual Future Food Asia conference held this month, Hong-Kong-based start-up Senior Deli was among the award winners. The company uses food engineering technology to promote a healthy lifestyle for seniors with dysphagia or difficulty in swallowing.
 
This is one example of why Hong Kong needs to develop innovation and cultivate entrepreneurship with agtech at the helm. The wave has yet to come. It’s time to start.

Read the complete article at www.scmp.com.


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