The Singapore government has set a target to locally produce 30% of Singapore’s nutritional needs by 2030. Currently, Singapore imports over 90% of its food requirements. To achieve this “30 by 30 vision”, the government will help the local agri-food industry to adopt new solutions to raise productivity, apply R&D, strengthen climate resilience, and overcome Singapore’s resource constraints. This announcement was made by Mr Masagos Zulkifli, Minister for the Environment and Water Resources, at the Committee of Supply Debate 2019, on 7 March 2019.
The Minister said that the Agriculture Productivity Fund (APF) has supported local farms such as Kok Fah and Ho Ka Clean to integrate climate control and automation into their operations, thereby raising their capacity and productivity. The APF administered by the Singapore Food Agency or SFA (previously by the Agri-Food and Veterinary Authority of Singapore, whose food responsibilities have been transferred to the SFA) helps local farms to upgrade their farms and conduct R&D. More than 90 farms have benefitted from the APF. The government will work similarly with existing coastal fish farms. As an example of technological innovation, the minister cited the adoption of closed containment aquaculture systems by Singapore Aquaculture Technologies. This protects fish production from sea-borne threats such as algae blooms or oil spills. The Singapore government’s vision is to develop Singapore into a tropical aquaculture hub. One area being studied is deep sea fish farming, which can contribute significantly to local production. A local first mover is Barramundi Asia, which uses large sea cages to culture Asian seabass in the deep waters off Pulau Semakau, Singapore’s offshore landfill. Using technology, Barramundi Asia can vaccinate 9000 fish in one hour, compared to just 600 manually. SFA will work with agencies and industry to open up more sites for deep sea farming with technology.
Singapore will also expand production in state-of-the-art indoor farms, using high-tech solutions like LED lighting and climate control. SFA will support the growing interest in urban farming, such as on rooftops. Such farms can also be used to test-bed innovative technologies for growing food. The Ministry is working with Singapore Land Authority (SLA), Ministry of Health (MOH) and the Early Childhood Development Agency (ECDA) to pilot this concept, re-purposing the former Henderson Secondary School into an integrated space comprising an urban farm, a child care center, a nursing home and a dialysis center.
The government is aiming to grow an ecosystem of R&D players to support agri- and aquaculture industry development. SFA’s Marine Aquaculture Centre will contribute to this effort by sharing its expertise and providing facilities for R&D. The RIEC has also set aside SGD 144 million (USD 106 million) for this.
The government has worked with higher educational institutions, Republic Polytechnic and Temasek Polytechnic to launch SkillsFuture Earn & Learn programs or ELP for fresh ITE graduates, leading to diplomas in Urban Agricultural Technology, and Aquaculture. The ELP will emplace ITE graduates in industry and equip them with the knowledge and skills to become agriculture and aquaculture technicians. We will also partner universities to groom Agri- and Aqua- technologists and culturists, urban farming specialists, and researchers to meet future needs.
(Sources: Straits Times; Ministry of the Environment and Water Resources, Singapore)