Heirloom Rice and Rice-Growing Culture in Hong Kong : A Reflection on Rice Heritage and Social Sustainability

Research output: Conference Papers (RGC: 31A, 31B, 32, 33)33_Other conference paper

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Original languageEnglish
Publication statusPresented - 12 Aug 2022


TitleFood and Sustainability
LocationHybrid, City University of Hong Kong
PlaceHong Kong
Period12 August 2022


Hong Kong was not only a place where rice had been widely grown to support its own population, it had also produced rice for the Chinese imperial court and overseas markets. While rice fields were commonly seen throughout the first half of the 20th century, rice production declined rapidly after the 1960s. Many rice wetlands were converted into vegetable farms for growing more profitable cash crops. In 2019, the Agriculture, Fishery and Conservation Department recovered some heirloom rice seeds from overseas seed banks and successfully carried out the first harvest of HK heirloom rice after its disappearance for over half a century. The paper explores the process and experiences of re-growing local rice and seeks to understand the emergence of a rice-growing culture among Hong Kong farmers. It argues that rice has been a part of the local identity and food heritage. However, it is also undeniable that local rice supply will not be sustainable due to the lack of farmland, low productivity, global rice imports and the fact that few in the city will recognize the value of supporting and sustaining the city’s own rice.