Local farms important for food security, national heritage

I thank Mr Donovan Chee Kwok Hoe for his letter expressing support for local businesses ("Do more to support local businesses"; Tuesday).

I also thank the public for the truly unexpected outpouring of support after a programme revealed that the Government will discontinue the leases of 62 farms in Lim Chu Kang to make way for military training grounds in June next year.

Kranji Countryside Association (KCA) has been in contact with the authorities for several years over the uncertainty of farm tenures.

We have stated that we fully understand Singapore does not have the luxury of limitless land, but that agriculture is important enough to incorporate into long-term national planning.

Food security is an integral part of national security, and local farms should play more than a secondary role, especially in an age of climate uncertainty.

Farming in an urban and peri-urban environment has its own set of challenges. What we lack in scale, we need to make up for in innovation, novelty and diversification.

KCA has been developing the Kranji countryside through ground-up efforts for 10 years, and it is now a well-known destination loved by locals and visitors alike.

Our farms are not only important for food security but also hold a special place in our national heritage and collective memory.

This should not be ignored.

KCA and the affected farmers have been assured by the authorities that a long-term solution is currently being sought.

We are hopeful that, moving forward, our future economy will include agriculture, and that young people will see it as an essential and exciting industry.

Chelsea Wan (Ms)

Honorary Secretary

Kranji Countryside Association

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on May 26, 2016, with the headline 'Local farms important for food security, national heritage'. Print Edition | Subscribe