Science can offer solutions for struggling farmers

PUBLISHED : Saturday, 30 January, 2016, 10:30am
UPDATED : Saturday, 30 January, 2016, 10:30am

Reading about the efforts to rejuvenate Hong Kong’s oyster cultivation industry (“The scientists helping Hong Kong’s oyster farmers get over hard times”, January 17), I am reminded of the challenges of another farming industry – agriculture.

Over the past few years, the image and reputation of local oysters have taken a hit following media reports that they contained excessive bacteria and heavy metals. Already struggling to cope with their inefficient cultivation methods, farmers have found it hard to sustain a profit. But solutions could be at hand now, as a team of scientists from the University of Hong Kong are helping the oyster farmers to overcome these and other challenges.

Similarly, local farmers could do with some help. They, too, face a vast number of problems, ranging from a lack of farmland (not least because of land acquisition) and foreign competition. To do well in local markets, they must improve their planting methods and facilities, thus becoming more competitive.

Scientists can help these farmers improve their facilities and farming process, and become more efficient, so that what they produce could fetch more money in the market.

Although more advanced methods like hydroponics are already more commonly known, farmers still lack the knowledge and skills needed to transform their modes of farming.

The help of scientists can be a key factor in improving the produce and profits of these farmers.

In the article on oyster farming, a PhD student who is part of the team working on the oyster culture project said it was rewarding to be using her scientific knowledge in the real world and helping the farmers overcome their obstacles.

As a student studying the sciences myself, I hope that what I learn now can be similarly applicable in future. Science should be used to improve people’s lives. If applied correctly, I believe it will bring more benefits than harm to the world.

Carol Mo Ka Wai, Tseung Kwan O