#FoodforLife: Farm School
Singapore has always recognised our need for self-sufficiency in food production, even as a newly self-governing state when the overall aim was to transform our economy from entrepôt to industry.
In 1959, the Primary Production Department (PPD) was established. But it faced a lot of challenges including lack of land for intensive farming, and educating farmers in modern methods of production. To help in its farming expansion programme, in 1965, #SingaporesFirst and only dedicated farm school, Singapore Farm School was set up in the Central Research Station of the PPD office on 10 1/2 mile Sembawang Road.
The Singapore Farm School conducted courses in general mixed farming, and provided specialisations in animal husbandry, horticulture or vegetable gardening, and freshwater fisheries. Students were trained in techniques for intensive types of farming, including various types of land-saving techniques such as mushroom cultivation and hydroponics. They were also attached to farms, nurseries, and fish aquarium establishments for on-the-job training. But enrolment dwindled after 20 batches of students and the school announced its closure in November 1984.
Today, farming activities are concentrated at six agrotechnology parks in low-density areas such as Lim Chu Kang and Loyang. While farming has taken a backseat to manufacturing and services, and rapid urbanisation greatly reduced the land available for farming, the effort to professionalise farming lives on. In September 2021, a new farm school at 60 Benoi Road in Joo Koon was launched. It is part of the national effort led by NTUC LearningHub to meet Singapore’s goal of producing 30% of its nutritional need by 2030.
ITE College East will also offer a new course in 2022, “AgriTech (Augmented Reality for Predictive Maintenance)”, to equip future farmers with relevant expertise for technologically advanced farms. Agriculture may not be a major pillar in our economy but for greater resilience as a city-state, we will need the ability to produce some of our own food. Always. #FoodforLife #SGFoodSources
📷: A practical session at the Farm School in the 1960s; Primary Production Department Collection, courtesy of National Archives of Singapore