Do more to promote locally grown food

Singapore imports over 90 per cent of its food, making us incredibly vulnerable to external factors like disease outbreaks, port closures or political instability in the countries we get our food from.

But, not to fear, we have a backup - local produce.

Singapore has seen much advancement in the urban farming scene.

Urban farms have overcome many challenges, from procuring supplies to obtaining approval from the various authorities. Setting up an urban farm today is substantially easier than it was just 10 years ago.

But despite all their progress, a big hurdle (potentially the biggest of all) that farms still face is local support.

Many people are unaware that Singapore has farms producing food locally.

The Agri-Food and Veterinary Authority of Singapore (AVA) has tried to raise awareness and promote consumption of local produce, including the "The ABC's of supporting local produce" publication and making information available on its website.

However, it can be improved.

Perhaps the AVA could increase the frequency of farmers' markets it holds to sell local produce, and also expand the publicity to social media platforms to reach a wider audience.

Additionally, it would be helpful if supermarkets had a section dedicated to local produce, similar to the "organic" section at FairPrice.

Couple this with AVA's special "Love Homegrown Produce" label, and shoppers will be able to easily identify local produce.

But, ultimately, it's up to us, the consumers.

Buying local produce not only helps to grow Singapore's independence, but also allows us to have fresher food. Food locally produced is traceable and safe, giving us peace of mind.

Local produce helps bring down the amount of food imports, reducing our import expenses. The reduction in travel distance the food takes to get to us also helps reduce our carbon footprint.

I hope we can show our support for local produce and play our part in ensuring our future food security.

One decision can make all the difference.

Arriola Micaela Josephine (Ms)

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Sunday Times on April 22, 2018, with the headline 'Do more to promote locally grown food'. Print Edition | Subscribe