Due to Hong Kong’s strict controls against the Omicron type of coronavirus, flower farmer Leung Yat-shen has burnt thousands of blossoms he won’t be able to sell this year, halving his Lunar New Year demand.
The news: In Hong Kong’s rural Yuen Long area, Leung, 70, manages a traditional farm that grows sword lilies, water lilies, and tulips. He had planted 200,000 flowers for the Lunar New Year, but because to the drop in demand, he was only able to sell around half of them.
What Leung said: “These beautiful flowers are completely healthy, and I would normally pick them and bring them to the market. Look how pretty they are,” Leung said, standing near a bed of shoulder-high red and pink blooms, soon to be thrown on the fire.
- “But this year there is no flower market at all. After they blossom, I will get rid of them all by burning them,” he said, adding that some could be used as fertiliser.
- Leung explained that he chose to burn the flowers because he didn’t want them to deteriorate and transmit illness to his plantation.
What’s going on: On January 14, the Hong Kong government stated that traditional Lunar New Year flower fairs in about 15 districts will be closed. Later, traffic limits were imposed on sites that were traditionally frequented by wholesalers.
- In keeping with China’s approach, the territory’s zero-COVID policy has resulted in the closure of its borders, the closure of schools, playgrounds, gyms, and most other facilities, and the incarceration of thousands of people in cramped apartments.
- Early on Friday, police patrolled the area surrounding Hong Kong’s flower market in the crowded Mong Kok neighbourhood, forcing farmers who had arrived with flowers to disperse.
- At his farm, which he runs with his wife and three employees, Leung, a second-generation flower farmer, has been able to sell some of his goods directly to clients.
- According to government statistics, compensation has been offered to licence holders of Lunar New Year flower festivals, but Leung claims that as a farmer, he has got nothing.
Grim existence: During the COVID-19 pandemic, the government provided him with the only financial assistance he needed: an interest-free loan from an anti-epidemic fund.
- “I rely on my own savings, and I am not sure if our business can make it through the year,” he said.
- “It’s painful. I’m not able to tell you how painful it is. All I can hope for is that the future will be better.”