Speech at Panel on Food Safety and Environmental Hygiene

II. Blueprint for the sustainable development of agriculture and fisheries

Development of the agricultural industry

Members noted that according to the Blueprint, the annual production of local vegetables was expected to increase from about 15 000 tonnes at present to about 60 000 tonnes within 15 years. Some members advised that environmental groups had all along been concerned about issues relating to the protection of agricultural land. These members requested the Administration to account for the respective estimated percentage of vegetables produced on agricultural land and of those not produced on agricultural land (such as those adopting hydroponic farming) in the above target annual production. The Administration responded that it would reserve quality agricultural land for active agricultural use in the long run through the designation of “Agricultural Priority Areas” (“APAs”) to accommodate the urban-rural integration plans for the Northern Metropolis and other districts, and would release the remaining land for other developments. At the same time, it would take forward Agricultural Park Phase 2 and promote the introduction of advanced hydroponics or other modernized technologies into the industry for production of good quality agricultural products, so as to facilitate modernization and sustainable development of the farming industry. The Administration was confident that through the implementation of the above measures, the annual production of local vegetables could increase to about 60 000 tonnes within 15 years.

Some members pointed out that the Mainland had in recent years proactively nurtured new types of agricultural business entities, promoted the establishment of farmer cooperatives and encouraged top-notch enterprisesto spearhead the development of the agricultural industry, thereby creating favourable conditions for modernization and intensification of the agricultural industry. They enquired whether the Government of the Hong Kong Special Administrative Region (“HKSAR Government”) would make reference to the Mainland’s practice to promote the development of the local agriculture and fisheries industries. Some members enquired about what specific measures would be put in place by the Administration to promote the development of trade organizations. The Administration responded that in view that fishermen and farmers in Hong Kong operated on a relatively small scale, it would lead the growth of trade organizations, strengthen the function of trade organizations in coordinating fishermen and farmers, collaborate with the organizations to jointly promote policies, and provide opportunities for the organizations to participate in the development of the agriculture and fisheries industries and project management.

Development of the fisheries industry

Members noted that the Blueprint had set out target annual production for different agricultural and fisheries products, except locally cultured pond fish. The Administration responded that it hoped to enhance the ecological functions of fish ponds and develop modernized and high-tech pond fish culture with high stocking density through development of the Wetland Conservation Parks System where the dual functions of fish ponds and wetlands were fully utilized, with the objective of enabling stable development of the pond fish culture industry.

III. Implementing a smart public toilet system at public toilets managed by the Food and Environmental Hygiene Department

Implementation of the Smart Public Toilet System

Members expressed support for FEHD to implement SPTS to enhance the management effectiveness of public toilets. Some Members, however, were concerned about the application of various equipment (e.g. using liquid crystal display panels for displaying the number of toilet compartments and urinal bowls available for use in real time) under SPTS being piloted and the related cost-effectiveness, and suggested that FEHD should consult the public in this regard.

The Administration responded that it was testing a number of technologies and equipment under SPTS in 14 public toilets, and had planned to install SPTS in another 11 public toilets of different scales and utilization rates and in different districts for further testing. FEHD and the Electrical and Mechanical Services Department (“EMSD”) would continue to evaluate, monitor and analyse information on various smart equipment options, as well as receive public views to select the equipment which fit users’ needs, and were highly efficient and cost-effective for wider application.

Some Members suggested that the Administration should consider installing smart body sensors and alarm systems in accessible unisex toilets, universal toilets and toilets with a relatively higher number of needy users (such as the elderly) in public toilets, so as to recognize emergency situations such as where users fell down or fainted, and make timely notification. The Administration responded that it was testing relevant devices in a public toilet under FEHD and would review their effectiveness in due course.

Monitoring of maintenance and repair works

Members noted that FEHD, ArchSD and EMSD had started using the “Minor Works Order Record System” mobile application since March 2020 to enhance the efficiency of maintenance and repair works for public toilets under FEHD. Members raised concerns about the effectiveness of the above initiative and the efficiency of relevant maintenance and repair works. The Administration responded that currently, FEHD tendered repair requests to ArchSD and EMSD and followed up the works progress through the mobile application. Data showed that since the introduction of the system, around 99% of the works were completed within the time frame of the performance pledge.