The liberalising of live-pig imports, announced yesterday, is a business opportunity for Hong Kong pig farmers like Simon Cheng Ka-shing. He and more than 200 other farmers have given up their licences to raise pigs in Hong Kong as part of a government drive to centralise the business. Mr Cheng has rented 26 hectares of land in Shaoguan, a major farming centre in Guangdong, and plans to raise at least 100,000 pigs. 'It's good news that we can supply pigs back home with the price now going through the roof,' he said, 'Apparently, the pork shortage will keep growing as the 2008 Olympics draws near.' After careful research, Mr Cheng, who has been raising pigs for 27 years, hit upon Shaoguan as the ideal place to farm pigs, given its plentiful supply of land and supportive local government. At least five fellow Hong Kong pig farmers have relocated to Shaoguan. The city plans to allow Hongkongers to farm as many as a million pigs, a government source said. Because of environmental concerns, the city of 3.2 million has a pig population limit of 4 million. The current pig population is just over 2 million. But in the near future, its pig population may catch up with its human one as more Hong Kong farmers arrive. 'The new pig farms will certainly contribute to the city's economy and employment,' said Mr Cheng. He has invested about HK$10 million in his farm, building pens and buying breeder pigs. The first batch of 200 breeder pigs, worth 3,000 yuan each, will arrive at the end of the month. 'I believe we hold advantages over local farmers - we have better techniques and higher standards thanks to our pig-farming experience in Hong Kong,' he said. He plans to acquire enough land to farm 300,000 pigs in the long term. His rent is less than 500 yuan per hectare per year. His investment there is not the biggest by a Hong Kong pig farmer. Lam Chi-lun has rented 80 hectares. Another agricultural city, Meizhou, was unfit for large-scale pig farming because of its hillier landscape, Mr Cheng said. However, a local government source said authorities in Shaoguan and Meizhou were considering allowing Hong Kong farmers to raise chickens and grow vegetables for export to Hong Kong. The Shaoguan government had worked out details of 'model zones' where they could farm, but these still needed approval by the central government, the source said.