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China: Rising prices and rooftop gardens

Following news of rising prices in China and Shenzhen shoppers traveling across the border to Hong Kong for cheaper goods, another recent trend, according to Shenzhen-based NetEase photoblogger CS Yilao, has seen people saving money by growing their own produce on rooftops:


With prices soaring recently in Shenzhen, and with the continued devaluation of the Hong Kong dollar against the yuan, some Shenzhen residents have taken to heading to Hong Kong to buy their daily necessities. Let's compare the difference in price for these daily goods between Hong Kong and Shenzhen: in Shenzhen, kitchen salt is being sold at RMB 2 a bag, but in Hong Kong supermarkets, HKD 1.1, which amounts to just RMB 0.90; a Fuji apple in Shenzhen already goes for RMB 12/kilo, or about RMB 4 per apple, but then you can buy about 4 apples of the same size in Hong Kong for HKD 10. The price of an egg in Shenzhen has already risen to RMB 0.90, but at Hong Kong's Wellcome supermarket, 30 eggs of more or less the same size cost just HKD 23, or less than RMB 0.7 per egg. Ten rolls of Vinda toilet paper at a Shenzhen supermarket is going for RMB 32.50, but HKD 28 in Hong Kong supermarkets; a 750 ml bottle of Rejoice shampoo costs RMB 39 in Shenzhen supermarkets, but in Hong Kong you can buy two bottles for HKD 61…


Recently, due to rising produce prices in Shenzhen, all vegetables are now costing everywhere from RMB 9/kilo and up. For the many of us out-of-province workers in Shenzhen, we're not able to get travel permits to Hong Kong as easily as locally registered Shenzhen residents. We can't get across the border to do all our grocery shopping in Hong Kong, but we still have a way out: our rooftops, and what a waste it would be to let those airy and spacious roofs go unused. With a little bit of elbow grease and some soil, we have ourselves a garden. We pick it ourselves and we reap enough to eat. Just as long as they don't tear down our buildings, we can get by farming like this.

One morning I got up early and went out onto the balcony, where I noticed something off about all the rooftops surrounding me. I got out my binoculars and looked around carefully, then I noticed that I was looking at rooftop gardens.

Gardens in each corner; here this homeowner is watering his sprouts.

These two neighbors look like they're sharing gardening tips

Everyone has their own plot and they help each other out, give and take.

Here the planters have been put aside and are about to be reseeded.

They're even using greenhouse technology.

These people are well prepared, bringing up all that building material. Looks like they're going all out.


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