20 farms tap into $63 million agriculture productivity fund

A vegetable farm in Lim Chu Kang.
A vegetable farm in Lim Chu Kang. PHOTO: ST FILE

SINGAPORE - Some 20 local farms from 17 companies have tapped into a $63 million fund launched last year to help them boost yields and increase productivity, said Minister for National Development Lawrence Wong on Thursday (Oct 29).

The Agriculture Productivity Fund went towards projects such as the building of taller growing houses at vegetable farms, for better ventilation, heat removal and automated shading of crops.

Local farmers currently produce about 10 per cent of all the leafy vegetables Singaporeans consume.

"If we continue to ramp up our local production in cost-effective ways, we can become more self-reliant over time," said Mr Wong, speaking to some 300 food industry players gathered at Orchard Hotel for a convention organised by the Agri-Food and Veterinary Authority.

Singapore can do a lot more to further strengthen its food security, said Mr Wong.

Every year, each person here consumes more than 300 eggs, 300 bowls of rice, 70 packs of leafy vegetables, 30 whole fish and 20 whole chickens. Heavily-reliant on overseas food sources, Singapore imports more than 90 per cent of its food from 160 countries worldwide.

Mr Wong said food importers here should continue to diversify their food sources abroad and invest in overseas farming, distribution and processing.

Companies can also pool purchases together to get more bargaining power then buying from neighbouring countries, he added.

Local farms and manufacturers should also invest in automation through technology and streamline their business operations to become more competitive, he said.

This year, Singapore was ranked the second-most food secure country in the world, behind the United States, according to the Economist Intelligence Unit's Global Food Security Index. Last year, it was fifth.

Mr Wong said: "This is a significant result, considering our high dependency on food imports. It's a testament to the success of our collective efforts, and an encouragement for us to press on for a food-secure future."

mellinjm@sph.com.sg