The next time you add organic produce to your supermarket cart, take a closer look. It might just be something that’s been grown in a Singapore farm. The government is working hard to roll out its “30 by 30” Plan that seeks to achieve the ambitious goal of producing 30 per cent of our food locally by 2030 in order to improve the country’s food security.
And while it may seem challenging - currently only 10 per cent of food is produced here - the recent pandemic has underscored the importance of achieving this.
Trina Liang, chair of World Food Future (and incidentally, a die-hard BMW driver), says, “Singapore will certainly find a way to achieve the goal, however impossible. Covid-19’s impact on global production capacities and the ensuing supply chain interruptions have shown that achieving 30 by 30 is now critical to protect Singapore and improve our food security.”
Government initiatives, such as the Agriculture Productivity Fund and the 30x30 Express Grant to encourage technological innovation, will help empower farms to scale up their productivity. This is especially important on land-scarce Singapore.
“The largest plots allocated to date are about six hectares, which results in a lack of economies of scale, leading to higher costs. This means farmers have to reduce their reliance on land and focus on investing in innovative technologies,” says Liang.
Already, many of Singapore’s green farms are meeting this challenge head on. For instance, Kok Fah Technology Farm has been investing in high-tech equipment and machinery to improve efficiency and productivity while ensuring freshness and quality of its range of leafy greens. Others such as Sustenir Agriculture use advanced technology like modern hydroponics and lights of different wavelengths to create the optimum conditions for plants to grow.
Another challenge the farming industry has to reckon with is the talent crunch. “It is not easy to hire Singaporeans to become farmers, and there are very few accredited farming programmes to upskill existing workers,” Liang observes.
In the end, what will most ensure the success of the local farming industry is sustained domestic demand, where consumers show their support for the industry by voting with their dollar and choosing homegrown produce over imported ones.
“There certainly are advantages to buying local,” says Dave Huang, a fourth-generation farmer at Kok Fah Technology Farm. “Locally-farmed produce is usually fresher and lasts longer than imported ones, due to the shorter time it takes for the produce to get from farm to table,” he says. “Also, by choosing local, we reduce our reliance on imported produce and lower our transport-related carbon footprint, which in turn gives us a healthier Earth.”
It is a meaningful experience to visit these farms to learn more about the origins of the food we consume. In Singapore, most farms are located in Kranji in the northwest corner of the country, making them ideal destinations for leisurely weekend drives. Before you plan your weekend itinerary, check out our list of suggested farms to visit, below.