Urban Farming in Singapore #ChallengeAccepted
Over 90% of Singapore’s food today is imported from 170 countries worldwide: our meat from as far as Brazil, rice from Thailand and India, eggs from countries including Ukraine, Poland, and Spain – to name just a few key food products. Our local agri-food sector is predominantly made up of farms producing hen shell eggs, vegetables, and seafood. In 2021, 4.3% of our vegetables, and almost 8% of our seafood were produced locally. Currently, 30.5% of eggs eaten here come from three egg farms in Singapore.
By 2030, we aim to produce 30% of our nutritional needs locally and sustainably. But with just 1% of our land set aside for farming — given our many competing needs — how do we raise local production? #ChallengeAccepted. By leveraging on technology and innovation.
With quite a number of urban farms scattered across our urban jungle, our urban farms are well-equipped with modern infrastructure and facilities. In the case of egg farming, automation is deployed, from the stages of packing to cleaning of cages, to increase productivity. We continue to build effective partnerships with farmers to promote local production, which includes research and development (R&D) on breeding, nutrition, disease control, production systems, and post-harvest technology. These technologies are transferred to farmers, who also receive technical assistance and funding support.
Our modern vegetable farms today use automation to save time and costs. For example, solar energy is used to automate ventilation fans and supplementary lighting. Irrigation is done via overhead sprinklers. Companies are also exploring vertical farming to grow leafy vegetables indoors. In a controlled environment, vegetables can be grown indoors under LED and fluorescent lighting. AVA has also developed an automatic indoor multi-tier seedling production system that has the potential to increase our productivity by four times and reduce water usage by 90%.
Our fish farmers also embrace automation and technology to reduce reliance on manpower. Through the Recirculating Aquaculture System, water can be re-used for fish culturing through multi-level water treatment processes. This also protects fishes from adverse environmental conditions when farmed indoors.
Singaporeans can support the national effort by choosing and buying local produce. You can easily identify local produce by spotting the SG Fresh Produce (SGFP) logo on packaging and selected marketing collaterals. Apart from being fresher, there is less spoilage and food waste as the produce does not need to travel for long periods of time to get to consumers.
Apart from supporting local produce, consumers can play their part by being open to alternatives. We are also advancing innovative agriculture through alternative proteins. In 2021, Singapore became the world’s first regulatory authority to approve the sales of lab-grown meat. Today, there are about 20 companies in Singapore developing lab-grown meat and plant-based protein. In the future, the Agri-Food Innovation Park located within the Greater Sungei Kadut area, forming part of the larger Northern Agri-tech and Food Corridor, will house industries that develop high-tech urban farming solutions to meet Singapore’s food challenges.