Farm to Fork: Local Producers to Meet 30 Percent of Singapore’s Nutritional Needs by 2030

Farm to Fork: Local Producers to Meet 30 Percent of Singapore’s Nutritional Needs by 2030

Apollo Aquaculture Group's prototype vertical fish farm at Lim Chu Kang. TODAY file photo

By  KENNETH CHENG

07 MARCH, 2019

SINGAPORE — By 2030, homegrown produce could meet 30 percent of Singapore’s nutritional needs, easing its reliance on imports and reducing its vulnerability to supply disruptions.

Home-based producers now meet less than 10 percent of Singapore’s nutritional needs, and Singapore imports more than 90 per cent of its food supply.

The “ambitious” target, announced by Environment and Water Resources Minister Masagos Zulkifli on Thursday (March 7), will also give enterprises and jobs here a lift.

The Health Promotion Board said that a “healthy plate” is made up of 50 per cent fruit and vegetables, 25 per cent protein such as chicken and 25 per cent staples such as brown rice.

The authorities said that local production has been increasing.

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Last year, farms here supplied 24 per cent of the eggs, 13 per cent of leafy vegetables and 9 percent of the fish consumed in Singapore.

The Government hopes to achieve its 2030 vision in the following ways.

TAPPING TECHNOLOGY

  • Expand agri-food production in high-tech controlled environments, with farming becoming more akin to manufacturing, in order to ensure a consistent output. This is also a “predictable” avenue to deal with the effects of climate change and extreme weather, which can affect yields.

  • Bump up the productivity of land, use resources such as water and energy efficiently, and automate and integrate systems via robotics and sensors.

  • Through technology such as indoor multi-storey vegetable farms that use light-emitting-diode technology and recirculating aquaculture systems, production of vegetables and fish can increase by 10 to 15 times a hectare, compared with traditional farms.

  • The new Singapore Food Agency (SFA), to be formed next month, will help farmers build capabilities through technical support, research-and-development tie-ups and the transfer of technology.

  • To encourage sustainable farming, the agency will also help farmers adopt advanced systems such as curtain systems that shade crops and reduce the impact of high temperatures on crop growth.

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EXPLOIT ALTERNATIVE SPACES

  • Explore more spaces to grow food in Singapore, including underused and alternative spaces such as vacant state buildings, rooftops and even the deep sea.

  • The former site of Henderson Secondary School along Henderson Road, for instance, will be turned into the country’s first integrated space — spanning 35,686sqm — comprising an urban farm, a childcare centre, nursing home and dialysis centre. It could be a test-bed for innovative food-growing technologies. A public tender for the urban farm will be awarded in May.

  • Deep-sea fish farming, which is highly productive, can also boost local production significantly. The SFA will work with agencies to open up more sites for this purpose. For example, Barramundi Asia — Singapore’s largest farm rearing barramundi (Asian sea bass) in large sea-cage enclosures — registers a yearly production of more than 400 tonnes. The farm occupies a 7.5ha space (10 football fields) off Semakau island.

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GROOMING EXPERTS IN THE FIELD

  •  A pipeline of Singaporean talent with a good grasp of urban food-production processes and business models is needed to expand and support Singapore’s agri-food ecosystem. They need multi-disciplinary expertise in the sciences, engineering, information and communications, robotics and energy, and waste and business management.

  • To meet demand, the authorities have been working with institutes of higher learning to develop courses, such as SkillsFuture Earn and Learn Programmes, that lead to diplomas in urban agricultural technology and aquaculture.

CHOOSE HOMEGROWN PRODUCE

  • Demand from consumers is key.

  • Homegrown produce is fresher as it arrives at retail outlets more quickly and is safe because it can be traced to its source easily, the Government said.

  • The Agri-Food and Veterinary Authority of Singapore, which will be dissolved when the SFA is formed, has rolled out initiatives to promote homegrown produce. It has organised SG Farmers’ Markets in the heartlands and tied up with supermarkets to hold fairs featuring such produce.

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