Work begins on pig farm project in Sino-S'pore food zone

A padi field at the Sino-Singapore Jilin Food Zone. PHOTO: ST FILE

A series of pig farms earmarked as one of the anchor projects in the Sino-Singapore Jilin Food Zone - a project for the production of safe and high-quality food - has taken a big step forward.

Construction of the first of two phases of the integrated pig farm project began yesterday at the food zone, a joint venture between Singbridge and China's Jilin city government. Singbridge is part of the Ascendas-Singbridge group, which is majority-owned by Temasek Holdings. The first phase of development will eventually comprise 33 farms and supporting facilities like an abattoir and a high-end processing plant across 150ha, targeting an eventual production of a million pigs a year. Operations will begin in the first half of next year.

The pig farm project is a joint venture between Thailand's CP Group, airport services and catering firm Sats and Ascendas-Singbridge group. A total of 1.2 billion yuan (S$243 million) is estimated to be invested for the first phase of development. Once the first phase is completed by 2021, the farm is expected to produce 300,000 pigs annually, with 100,000 meant for Singapore.

A 10,000 sq m cheese powder processing plant, set up by Shanghai Guangze Food Technology Holdings, officially started operations yesterday. The company's chairman, Ms Chai Xiu, said it plans to invest more than 600 million yuan in the food zone for the processing plant and supporting facilities, which will promote tourism and education activities. She estimated the firm's investment will bring in revenue of 1.4 billion yuan annually.

Minister of State for Trade and Industry Koh Poh Koon said in Jilin yesterday that Singapore's Agri-Food and Veterinary Authority had helped the Jilin city government to build up capabilities, with AVA officers stationed in Jilin. He added that the project "highlights the strong and cooperative relationship between Singapore and China". With Singapore importing more than 90 per cent of its food, Dr Koh said "we are always looking for new, quality and safe food sources to diversify. At the same time, Jilin wants to become a food producing and processing hub". He expressed hope that the development of the food zone would help boost Jilin's food industry and exports of food products.

Chairman of Singbridge's entity Jilin Food Zone, Dr Lee Boon Yang, said this was an important milestone for the zone. "With the commencement of the integrated pig farm project, we can look forward to further investment opportunities in pork processing and other food production." Dr Lee is also chairman of Keppel Corp and Singapore Press Holdings.

More projects are in the pipeline for the food zone this year, including a 30,000 tonne production line for flammulina, a type of fungus, as well as production facilities for condiments and disposable utensils.

The idea for the zone was mooted in 2008 by Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong and then Chinese Premier Wen Jiabao, with the aim of diversifying food sources for Singapore and improving safety standards for Chinese consumers. In 2013, a joint management firm was set up.

The zone is based on two pillars - of being foot and mouth disease free and having an integrated food safety system of international standards.

The food zone debuted its first product - a batch of 60 tonnes of Japanese sticky rice - in December last year at FairPrice Xtra hypermarts and Finest supermarkets.

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A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on April 25, 2017, with the headline Work begins on pig farm project in Sino-S'pore food zone. Subscribe