Key Points on Ensuring Food Security in Singapore
Singapore will face disruptions in our food supply from time to time, due to volatility in crop yields, geopolitical developments, and unexpected policy changes. Climate change, which brings with it the loss of arable land and more erratic weather patterns, will put more strain on the global food supply.
There is no need to hoard or panic buy food products as we have strengthened our food security with buffer stocks and diversified sources to cope with supply disruptions. We can also be more open to alternatives and flexible about our food choices.
Over 90% of Singapore’s food comes from some 170 countries and regions. This heavy reliance on food import leaves us exposed to external forces, from supply shocks in source countries to disruptions in global supply chains.
For instance, global supply chain fallouts from the ongoing Russia-Ukraine war have led to an increase in frequency and scale of disruptions in food supply.
Singapore’s efforts to strengthen food resilience
Singapore has built and strengthened our food resilience over the years, drawing on past lessons. In 1959, the Primary Production Department was set up to provide for the socio-economic development of rural communities, including raising farming productivity. The measures took off, and by the 1980s, Singapore achieved self-sufficiency with the local production of eggs, poultry, and pork.
However, over time, with the scarcity of land, the number of farms dwindled out and we relied more on imports for our food needs. But the rising volatility in food prices in the mid-2000s prompted us to rethink our food strategy. Food imports and diversification had to be supplemented by secondary measures, such as stockpiling and local production.
The Singapore government maintains a national stockpile of essential items, such as rice, infant milk powder, and face masks. For instance, in March 2020, Singapore has stockpiled more than three months’ worth of carbohydrates like rice and noodles (the Rice Stockpile Scheme started in 1968), and more than two months’ worth of stockpiles for proteins and vegetables.
While less than 10% of Singapore’s food is locally grown, food produced locally can also provide a buffer in the event of supply disruptions. In 2019, our local farms contributed to the following key food production of our total food consumption:
|Produce||Annual Production||Local Production as % of Consumption|
|Hen shell eggs||528 million pieces||26%|
|Leafy vegetables||12,700 tonnes||14%|
Data obtained from: Singapore Food Agency (SFA)
Source: Singapore Food Agency (SFA)
Relevant information and resources on Singapore’s approach to ensuring food security:
Singapore has built food resilience with buffer stocks, diversified sources: PM Lee
How will Singapore ensure we have enough food?
Podcast on Keeping our Food Supply Secure (on the Camokakis app): https://app.camokakis.sg/GTxG
Diversification of our food sources by importing from different countries. https://www.facebook.com/ConnexionSG/posts/pfbid0A7Y7zSJcMincxHXzNGruxVYPaVCDPCPXLAkTZ12i1Q8o7V9dWyzZ2RbJKL1WYmsXl
The world on your plate: So where does your food come from? https://www.channelnewsasia.com/brandstudio/sgfoodsources
We have always recognised our need for self-sufficiency in food production, even as a newly self-governing state. https://www.facebook.com/ConnexionSG/posts/pfbid01UNYJPpr4vhbMKQTkqzsTyNEfi3kRCSW1Q3FMPY8HWezsPiuYJP5RBZ9U6mDARWAl
Levelling up Singapore’s food supply resilience. https://www.sfa.gov.sg/food-for-thought/article/detail/levelling-up-singapore-s-food-supply-resilience?fbclid=IwAR3tt6Iv-PJE2sNPiuhuqIuSR6sTy59gJYuO3X3bP3J4v0lI9aad4A8jXaU
Strengthening Singapore’s Food Security. https://www.psd.gov.sg/challenge/ideas/deep-dive/strengthening-singapore-s-food-security?fbclid=IwAR24ECJxZfcb74dGBncg1aJvU-NIlVg2lSOhDFsPqbQTLbfQGIGfw33AJNU
Singapore has months’ worth of stockpiles, planned for disruption of supplies from Malaysia for years: Chan Chun Sing. https://www.channelnewsasia.com/singapore/coronavirus-covid-19-chan-chun-sing-food-supply-772876
The Big Read: Singapore has been buttressing its food security for decades. Now, people realise why. https://www.channelnewsasia.com/singapore/covid19-coronavirus-singapore-food-security-stockpile-national-773856
MTI’s Facebook post on Strengthening Resilience of our Food Supply. https://www.facebook.com/MTISingapore/posts/pfbid022fPgmFvFNEeXFXgKLCyVUxE9CqiHASbvn9PYBVTXx941eEQFKbrXe4AAgY7dXu2wl
Relevant information and resources on the recent ban of chicken exports by Malaysia:
Food security expert Professor Paul Teng on Malaysia’s chicken export ban
SFA’s Statement on Chicken Import https://www.facebook.com/SGFoodAgency/posts/pfbid035Nesy7UedNiByoP9dtuNe6oLkszh87CAaRMgjzEcFBbUghPS33QA9JefzvRL4g7Ql
Follow these ABC tips on your grocery run!
Always buy what you need, and do not over-purchase.
Be flexible and adaptable with your protein options
Choose alternatives such as frozen or processed chicken!
Let’s do our part and buy only what we need :)