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Singapore Budget 2014: Food waste must be cut to improve food security

Unfinished food and drink left on a table at a hawker centre. Singapore needs to cut food waste and its food industry should share resources like procurement and equipment, to improve food security. -- ST PHOTO: KUA CHEE SIONG
Unfinished food and drink left on a table at a hawker centre. Singapore needs to cut food waste and its food industry should share resources like procurement and equipment, to improve food security. -- ST PHOTO: KUA CHEE SIONG

Singapore needs to cut food waste and its food industry should share resources like procurement and equipment, to improve food security.

Those were the recommendations of an inter-ministry committee on food security, formed in 2012 to tackle Singapore's food security risks and vulnerabilities, said Minister of State for National Development Dr Maliki Osman in Parliament on Monday.

Some firms are already cooperating, he said. For example, the Restaurant Association of Singapore set up an online portal that allows restaurants to automate procurement processes, and so far, 62 restaurants have signed up.

But food waste from households, food manufacturing and catering, retail, malls and other sources is still a concern, he said. "In 2012, about 703,200 tonnes of food waste was generated in Singapore. This is equivalent to, on average, an individual wasting about 650 bowls of rice per year."

So the National Environment Agency, Agri-Food and Veterinary Authority, and SPRING Singapore are developing guidelines for food manufacturers and retailers to manage food waste, while the NEA and AVA are "looking into developing a comprehensive public education outreach programme" on food waste, targeted at schools, community and retailers.

Meanwhile, Dr Maliki said, diversifying Singapore's food sources "will continue to be our core strategy" for food security.

Still, Singapore produces some of its fish, leafy vegetables and eggs locally. So the Agri-Food and Veterinary Authority will pay 70 per cent of restocking costs for fish farms which suffered losses during a spate of mass fish deaths last month.

Dr Maliki also said the AVA will review and strengthen the current alert system that warns fish farmers of adverse environmental conditions, and "work with the fish farms to develop a more sustainable sea based farming system, so that they are less susceptible to changes in environmental conditions".

And for those keen on small-scale community farming, he added, all new multi-storey carparks will get facilities like planter beds and irrigation systems that can be used for community farms.

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