A quarter of farms that went organic in a government-backed scheme have been kicked off after failing to stop using chemical fertilisers. Twenty farms joined the organic conversion scheme - which did not involve any subsidies - in 2000, but five were disqualified during the one-year trial. The scheme encouraged local farmers to switch from relying on pesticides and chemical fertilisers. Stephen Lai Yue-hong, from the Agriculture, Fisheries and Conservation Department, said the five farmers were found to have broken the ban on using chemical fertilisers and pesticides, despite repeated warnings. 'They kept using the fertilisers because they thought it would speed up growing and produce bigger vegetables,' he said. Organic vegetables from the other 15 farms were sent to 30 outlets, including supermarkets and health food shops. But Lam Chung-cho, 60, who joined the scheme, said the promotion of organic vegetables was ineffective. 'Not many people know about organic vegetables and the market is too small.' Mr Lam said he was only making $6,000 a month, as production had dropped by up to 30 per cent due to waste caused by pests. He said he would continue organic farming, as it was no longer possible to compete with the mainland using traditional methods. Ko Kwok-chok, 75, a farmer with 50 years' experience, said he believed the future lay in organic farming. Last year he rejected a $20 million offer to sell his 50,000 square foot farm in Kam Tin and insisted on joining the scheme. Both Mr Lam and Mr Ko are still taking part in the conversion scheme.