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Old Field and New Farmer: The Localization of Organic Farming in Hong Kong

Eric Siu-kei CHENG (National Taitung University)
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This paper examines the localization of organic agriculture in Hong Kong. It also analyzes the role of Hong Kong farmers in cross-border politics, Hong Kong identity construction, environmental protection, and food safety issues. In the twentieth century, Hong Kong agriculture experienced dramatic changes, especially that vegetable gardening became the major sector of the local agro-food system. Chinese migrant farmers formed their community and benefited from the "Vegetable Revolution". However, they encountered challenges such as globalization, aging farming population, environmental pollution, and food safety issues. Some urban elites introduced organic farming and cooperated with consumers and other communities to explore new marketing opportunities. At the same time, organic farmers were contested by different parties who questioned the authenticity of organic food. Organic certification agencies emerged as a governance tool, but they could not extend their service to mainland China, the largest food exports to Hong Kong, because Hong Kong local farmers and consumers fail to trust mainland Chinese organic food. Organic food is not only a new type of commodities, but also a product of moral economy in Hong Kong agriculture. Moreover, organic farmers play a key role in the construction of Hong Kong identity within the context of environmental movements.

Journal of History and Anthropology