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HKBU to offer territory's first agriculture-related undergraduate degree, training next generation of "farmers" and professionals


Professor Jonathan Wong (centre), Mr Alan Wong (right) and Mr Peter Yeung introduce the new programme

Hong Kong Baptist University (HKBU) will offer the territory's first Bioresource and Agricultural Science undergraduate programme as one of the major studies of its Bachelor of Science from 2019-20.

Focusing on the integration of agriculture with bioresource management, the programme aims to educate students about sustainable resource management. It will also cover the social, ecological and environmental significance of agricultural practices and bioresource conservation from a sustainability perspective.

Professor Jonathan Wong Woon-chung, Head of the Department of Biology and Programme Director of the course, says that the Chief Executive has raised in her Policy Address 2018 that the Government will continue to take forward measures under the New Agriculture Policy, which includes the Agricultural Park Phase 1 work and the setting of agricultural priority farming areas. He says sustainable agriculture will bring in new economic opportunities for Hong Kong, and there is currently a huge demand for professionals to help with the implementation of the policy. There is also a need for talented professionals to move into agricultural trading, farm production, research and development on agricultural technologies, and plant breeding to cope with the growing demand in Hong Kong, the Greater Bay Area and across the globe for quality fresh fruit and vegetables, he adds.

Professor Wong says the programme will focus on nurturing students' basic knowledge and skills on bioresource and agricultural science, including an introduction to agricultural science and natural resources, soil resource and fertiliser science, plant disease, pest and weed management. It will also pinpoint bioresource and agricultural management, for example, crop production and management, agribusiness's marketing and entrepreneurship, farm management for the urban environment, and urban arboriculture and horticulture.

The programme will also offer professional bioresource and agriculture training to students, including, for example, the bioresource and agricultural science laboratory and the International Organic Inspectors Association's Organic Certification Training.

All students will be provided with internship opportunities in the industry, such as technical farm training at the Agriculture, Fisheries and Conservation Department's Experimental Station, as well as local or overseas technical and practical training.

Mr Alan Wong Chi-kong, former Director of HKSAR Agriculture, Fisheries and Conservation Department and also Chairman of the Advisory Committee of HKBU’s Faculty of Science, suggests that modern agriculture has developed into a scientific, enterprise-like and eco-friendly operation to meet the global need for fresh, healthy and safe food. In addition to the development of organic farming and recreational agriculture, he is optimistic about the career prospect of the graduates.

HKBU alumnus Mr Peter Yeung, who runs his own farm in the Mainland, says that about 50% of agricultural products on sale in Hong Kong are imported from farmland which has received investment from Hong Kong merchants, and as a result graduates from Hong Kong will have a distinct advantage. He adds that graduates who are devoted to agriculture and related industries will benefit not only from the fast development of modern agriculture, but also from the new types of work it has generated, such as agricultural insurance.

Professor Jonathan Wong says that the programme, pending the formal approval of the University, will offer 15 places initially.