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Farmer from HK finds feet on mainland soil

By ZHENG CAIXIONG in Guangzhou | CHINA DAILY | Updated: 2022-05-04 07:40
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Editor's note: The country's youth today face challenges and opportunities that are distinct from previous generations. In this series, China Daily examines how these young people are prevailing amid the trials unique to their times.

Victor Lo Wai Tak (left) and his friends and business partners, all born in Hong Kong after 1990, work together on their farm in the city of Jiangmen, Guangdong province. CHINA DAILY

Going against grain proves profitable for open-minded entrepreneur

Victor Lo Wai Tak never expected to receive the recognition he has on the Chinese mainland after arriving in the city of Jiangmen, in South China's Guangdong province, a short six years ago to become a farmer.

The award-winning 29-year-old entrepreneur, together with his good friends and now business partners and fellow farmers-Leung Lap Fung and Tam Wai Man, all hail from the Hong Kong Special Administrative Region.

Their farm in Jiangmen produces more than 400 metric tons of green vegetables a year, and pulls in an annual profit of more than 10 million yuan ($1.56 million).

"The annual vegetable output is expected to increase to more than 3,000 tons as the farm area expands to 337,000 square meters in the following years," Lo said in a telephone interview with China Daily.

"The farm has been given the green light to sell vegetables to the Hong Kong and Macao regions because of the high quality of our produce," he said.

"It gives me great pleasure that my family and friends in Hong Kong are now able to purchase the vegetables I grow here in Jiangmen."

In addition to the vegetable crop, the farm is dabbling in animal husbandry and is using an innovative fish breeding practice to create a symbiotic fertilizing system.

"The nutrients in the fish manure are used as fertilizer for vegetables when the fish pond water is used to irrigate the vegetable plots, and the water, having been purified by the vegetable roots, finally flows back to the fish pond," he said.

"We do not have to change the water for the fish pond, and the vegetable planting does not need any chemical fertilizer and pesticide this way.

"In this way, we can grow and raise delicious vegetables and fish that have broad market prospects," Lo said.

"Currently, the fish output only accounts for a small part of production on the farm."

Due to the excellent performance of the business, Lo was awarded the title of Young Pioneer of Rural Revitalization of China last year, while Lo's team won the May 4th Youth Medal in 2020.

"As a farmer in the new era, I am proud of my work."

Although agriculture has great potential for development, the process of starting a business is never plain sailing, he said.

Initially, Lo's family did not want him to go to the mainland to grow vegetables. But Lo and his friends were not interested in becoming white collar workers in Hong Kong like so many others, and instead wanted to seek out a different future.

Despite none of them having majored in agriculture at university, the three friends made the bold decision to set up their farm in Jiangmen based on the city government's provision of incentive policies and expert guidance.

To grow high-quality vegetables, Lo and his team had to experiment repeatedly, analyze the soil and study the local climate.

Agricultural experts in Jiangmen provided them with great help during the most difficult times, he added.

Leung Lap Fung, who was responsible for many of the experiments in the early days, said each seedling experiment could take one day or it could take months.

"Temperature, humidity, water pH and other conditions all might affect the final results of the experiments," Leung said.

"It is also common for mistakes to occur right at the end of the experiment."

Tam Wai Man said they helped and encouraged each other during difficult times.

According to Tam, the farm can now sell more than 30 tons of vegetables to Hong Kong annually.

Tam said she hoped more young people from Hong Kong would come to the mainland to take advantage of the business opportunities.

Lo said they are continuing to develop and expand their business on the mainland.

"We have witnessed the development of the mainland at the same time as our own business growth in recent years," he said.

Zhao Yujing contributed to the story.

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