Diversification key to tackling food challenges

How is it possible to allocate more land for vegetable farming without compromising on our infrastructure and housing (S'pore must become self-sufficient in food by Dr George Wong Seow Choon; Dec 27, 2018)?

To do so would mean that Singapore must set aside more land for farming.

That may mean less land for housing and, thus, Singapore's population must be reduced.

Are we prepared for that?

The question is not about self-sufficiency but the price of the food.

Are taxpayers prepared to pay for expensive technology to improve agriculture productivity?

Self-sufficiency does not guarantee food security.

Diversification helps Singapore tackle food challenges. This is the way forward to ensure a resilient supply. And the population can do its part too: Ensuring food sufficiency also requires minimal food wastage.

Food security as a concept does not distinguish between food that is imported from abroad and that which is grown domestically.

It is about whether people at all times have physical, social and economic access to sufficient food.

Singapore is deemed food-secure because we import a lot of it, hence the need for a strong Singapore dollar and diversified supply chains.

The duty of the Government is to ensure that people earn enough to buy food from the open market.

Our limited land is best used for industries that provide employment so that people can afford to feed themselves.

Singapore is not sitting idle on food security. There are many big corporate groups partnering foreign companies on farming and food production projects.

Diversification helps Singapore tackle food challenges. This is the way forward to ensure a resilient supply.

And the population can do its part too: Ensuring food sufficiency also requires minimal food wastage.

Cheng Choon Fei

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on January 02, 2019, with the headline 'Diversification key to tackling food challenges'. Print Edition | Subscribe