Tap Iskandar corridor to grow our economy

I am optimistic the recent announcement by the Malaysian government to expand the Iskandar corridor will help the growth of our economy (Malaysia doubles size of Johor's Iskandar corridor, Feb 23).

Singapore and Malaysia share many similarities.

Such proximity breeds familiarity and ease of integration when businesses expand overseas.

Both countries share similar legal infrastructure, too, and their cheaper labour supply could support the nascent technology-linked sectors, such as agritech and foodtech, in Singapore.

Agritech refers to the use of technology to improve efficiency and yield, such as biotechnology, novel farm management and supply chain systems, while foodtech involves innovation higher up the supply chain.

Our agricultural technology companies such as Sustenir, Trendlines, VertiVegies and SmartAHC, could receive a huge boost as they apply the technologies on the land available in Iskandar corridor.

According to business consulting firm Frost and Sullivan, global smart agriculture revenue will hit US$9 billion (S$12 billion) next year.

With this development, venture funds or technology accelerators such as ID Capital, The Yield Lab, AgFunder and Temasek Life Sciences Accelerator could increase their investment in indoor farming, or a listed company such as Oceanus could increase its capital in aquaculture research.

Working with the Iskandar corridor and with technology could effectively help us overcome our arable land scarcity, and we could produce much more food at a location that is just a two-hour drive from Singapore.

It would also allow us to diversify our reliance on traditional food sources.

Singapore is home to a small community of farmers presently. With affordable land leases from the Iskandar corridor and tech-savvy local companies and entrepreneurs, our country stands a chance to be a global leader in the agritech and foodtech space.

Edward Tay Wee Meng

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on February 28, 2019, with the headline 'Tap Iskandar corridor to grow our economy'. Print Edition | Subscribe