Food and agriculture

Food and agriculture

Latest news, in-depth features and opinion on food and agriculture, with a focus on Hong Kong, mainland China and Asia.

China is developing a huge appetite for cheese and butter
Something smells funny in China. Cheese and other dairy products are not part of the traditional Chinese diet, yet there has been a surge in dairy imports. According to European Commission data, the volume of Europe’s cheese exports to China in the first 11 months of this year was 24% higher than for the whole of 2018, amounting to more than 20,000 tons. Exports of European butter to the country have grown at an even greater pace this year – by 36%. Cheese has historically been alien to the diet in China, where research shows that a great many people are lactose intolerant. However, a 2018 report by China’s National Institute for Nutrition and Health found that Chinese citizens needed encour
China is developing a huge appetite for cheese and butter
Armed to fight drones, China’s pig farmers busted for disrupting flights
Pig farms in China are fighting a high-tech war with gangsters reportedly plotting to profit off a national pork crisis. A pig farm in northeastern China deployed anti-drone equipment following rumors that gangs were trying to spread African swine fever by airdropping the virus into farms. The goal was to scare farmers into selling their livestock at a discount. African swine fever poses no risk to human health but is fatal to pigs. The disease has reduced China’s hog herds by over 40% due to mass culls designed to stop further spreading of the disease. The Chinese authorities uncovered the use of anti-drone devices after a number of pilots complained about losing GPS signals while flying ov
Armed to fight drones, China’s pig farmers busted for disrupting flights
China faces ‘huge challenge’ in living up to US trade promises
China has released fewer details about its trade deal with the US than the American side has – a sign of caution as one government adviser warned it would not be easy for Beijing to live up to its commitments. “For China, committing to and carrying out the phase one agreement is a huge challenge,” Shi Yinhong, a Chinese government adviser and international relations professor at Renmin University, said. “China will need to buy something like $300 billion worth of US products in the next two years and lots more US agricultural goods. Does China need that amount of US soybeans?”  A fact sheet released by Washington on Friday said China and the US had reached a “phase one” agreement on nine are
China faces ‘huge challenge’ in living up to US trade promises
Chinese gangs intentionally spread African swine fever for profit
Chinese criminals have been exploiting the country’s African swine fever crisis by intentionally spreading the disease, or misinformation about the disease, to upsell pork, state media has reported.  The gangs use strong-arm tactics to force farmers to sell their pigs for a low price before smuggling the meat to other parts of China. They use forgery and bribery to resell it as healthy stock at a markup. Sometimes the gangs spread rumors about the virus, but in more extreme cases they use drones to drop infected items into farms, according to an investigation by the magazine China Comment, which is affiliated to state news agency Xinhua. African swine fever is not a risk to human health, b
Chinese gangs intentionally spread African swine fever for profit
China is breeding an army of beetles to fight a ‘terrifying’ pest
Scientists are breeding millions of beetles for a battle against a weed that threatens to choke rivers across China and clog the country’s famed Three Gorges Dam. Alligator weed is native to South America but was introduced to the Yangtze River in 1937 by the occupying Japanese as a feed crop for their horses. After the second world war, it was grown across southern China for animal feed, garden greening and herbal medicine. It was not until the 1980s that researchers realized what people living along the river knew – the prolific alligator weed was a menace. Other crops such as rice could not compete with the weed for nutrients, sunlight and space, and it began to choke the life out of fis
China is breeding an army of beetles to fight a ‘terrifying’ pest
China’s pork shortage puts dog meat back on the menu
Like most small restaurants in this rural part of Wanan county in the eastern province of Jiangxi, the Little Wealth God does not have a menu. Diners go directly to the kitchen to pick vegetables, fish and raw meat, and let the chef know how they would like them cooked. But due to its spiraling price, China’s most popular meat, pork, is nowhere to be seen. Instead, many locals are opting for a traditional dish that had lost appeal until recently. “Why not choose dog meat if you want some meat?” the waiter recommended, adding high prices meant most diners no longer felt it worthwhile to order pork. Renewed interest in dog meat is just one of the side-effects that a massive pork shortage, cau
China’s pork shortage puts dog meat back on the menu
How China is gearing up to fuel America’s CBD craze
On a remote mountainside overlooking a misty valley, rows of cannabis plants are growing near fields of tobacco and corn. This isn’t a pot farm in California. It’s in southwestern China’s Yunnan. China has one of the strictest drug control policies in the world. But here in a mountainous region bordering Myanmar, Laos and Vietnam, cannabis is being touted as a crop that could bring untold wealth to farmers and businesses. That’s because these plants won’t get you high. They don’t have enough of a chemical called tetrahydrocannabinol, or THC, which is responsible for the euphoric feeling. Instead, they’re rich in cannabidiol, often called CBD, another chemical extracted from cannabis that isn
How China is gearing up to fuel America’s CBD craze
Above the clouds, China’s winemakers are creating world-class wine
Some 7,000 feet above sea level, the mountains and valleys of southwestern China hide a secret: grapes. They belong to the Ao Yun –”‘above the clouds” – winery. Owned by French luxury giant Moët Hennessy, the winery has set out to prove that China can make a superlative bottle of wine. And with vintages making wine lists around the world and with prices starting at around $300, they’re well on their way. AFP photographer Fred Dufour and reporter Pak Yiu visited the winery: check out our gallery above for more.
Above the clouds, China’s winemakers are creating world-class wine
How China makes a billion eggs a day
  China needs a billion eggs a day. With demand through the roof, the nation is modernizing its supply chain. This joint venture between China's Huayu Agricultural Science and Technology and the US-based Hy-Line International is the world’s biggest hatchery plant. Located in Handan, in the northern province of Hebei, the hatchery produces some 400,000 chicks a day. But increased automation is costing workers jobs in the $37 billion industry.
How China makes a billion eggs a day
Is coffee taking over in China’s tea heartland?
Is java becoming the new chai? It might be for China’s millennials, who appear to be turning away from tea.  Coffee consumption in China has grown 15%-20% annually since 2011, according to a report by the Zhiyan Consulting Group.  And despite its reputation as a tea production centre, Puer – a city in southwestern Yunnan province known for its fermented tea – has wasted no time moving into the coffee market. Tea farmer Yang Yang has been around tea all her life, but she started growing coffee seven years ago. Today, more than 50 of the 70 families in Yang’s village grow both tea and coffee.  Yunnan produced 150,000 tons of coffee beans last year, with half coming from Puer. Yunnan province a
Is coffee taking over in China’s tea heartland?