Clearer, more long-term plan needed for farmers

The report, Farmers perplexed by 3rd lease extension (May 28), may have led some readers to believe that local farmers are nonchalant about or even ungrateful for the extension. They are not.

The farmers have good reason to be perplexed as they had previously received notices to say that they would need to move, first by this year, then by 2019, and that those decisions were final without further details.

Naturally, many tried to make plans for the future. Some, thinking that their farms would not be operational for long, withheld investments that could have boosted productivity and business.

Such situations are frustrating to business owners.

The most recent extension was given after a full year of engagement between farmers and officers from the Ministry of National Development and Agri-Food and Veterinary Authority.

This engagement resulted in a better understanding of the complexities of relocating farms and the impact it would have on food production and farmer livelihoods.

It is a positive development and both farmers and the Kranji Countryside Association (KCA) appreciate the additional time given to plan for the future.

Agriculture is important to every country for food security, education, tourism and heritage.

It takes stakeholders working together to enable Singapore's small agricultural sector to thrive and grow. Only then can we attract investment and young talent.

The KCA continues to advocate policy clarity and a more long-term and holistic approach to agricultural planning in Singapore.

It is our hope that farms which have worked hard to produce food and to transform the Kranji countryside would be given a reprieve and be allowed to stay on their land with a renewal, and not just a short-term extension, of leases.

Kenny Eng

President

Kranji Countryside Association

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Sunday Times on June 04, 2017, with the headline 'Clearer, more long-term plan needed for farmers'. Print Edition | Subscribe