Koh Poh Koon on six-day farm technology-sourcing trip to Japan

Dr Koh visited Farm85 at Lim Chu Kang as part of his pre-trip preparation.
Dr Koh visited Farm85 at Lim Chu Kang as part of his pre-trip preparation. PHOTO: KOH POH KOON/FACEBOOK

SINGAPORE - Minister of State for National Development Koh Poh Koon will be visiting Japan to source for indoor farming technologies so that Singapore can build resilience in its food supply.

During the trip, from Monday to Saturday (July 18 to 23), Dr Koh will be visiting high-tech vegetable farms and research facilities in Osaka, Chiba and Tokyo, said the Ministry of National Development on Sunday (July 17).

Dr Koh, who is also Minister of State for Trade and Industry, will also meet the Japan Parliamentary Vice-Minister of Agriculture, Forestry and Fisheries, Mr Hidemichi Sato, to discuss policies and support which the Japan Government provides for high-tech farming.

Through this trip, Dr Koh hopes to share advanced technologies with the farming industry. He added that, using technology, farms in Singapore "may be able to grow even more with less land".

"Our agricultural sector, though small, plays a strategic role in Singapore's food security. With the increasing impact of climate change and global urbanisation, we need to find ways to secure our own food sources," he said.

On his Facebook page, Dr Koh said on Sunday that he visited Farm85 at Lim Chu Kang as part of his pre-trip preparation. One of the most productive vegetable farms in Singapore, the farm's produce are sold to wholesalers and supermarkets for local consumption.

To cope with dry and hot weather which has impacted crop growth in recent years, the farm has tapped on the Agri-Food and Veterinary Authority's (AVA's) Agriculture Productivity Fund to customise automated greenhouses and watering systems.

"He (the farm's owner) is cognizant that with further extreme weather conditions, indoor farming may become the only viable option eventually," said Dr Koh, adding that the Government will continue to work with farmers to bring in more advanced farming technologies.

During his trip, Dr Koh will be accompanied by officials from the Ministry of National Development, AVA, as well as those from the industry and institutes of higher learning.

Singapore currently imports over 90 per cent of its food supply.

Earlier in June this year, AVA announced that all new agriculture land would go back to the original lease period of 20 years.This was after it had received feedback from farmers that the 10-year tenure, with a possible 10-year extension announced in 2014, was too short for investing in automation.