Forum: Set up eco-tourism farming communities on Pulau Ubin

I read with interest the upcoming redevelopment of Lim Chu Kang as Singapore ramps up its drive to produce more food locally (Lim Chu Kang set for makeover into high-tech agri-food cluster, Oct 3).

Productivity is not the only thing that matters; we should take a more holistic approach to support vulnerable Singaporeans.

I propose that eco-tourism farming communities be established on Pulau Ubin, where tourists and students can tend to organic crops using traditional farming methods and learn more about local wildlife while living in attap houses.

First, the farms can employ elderly folk as supervisors while people with disabilities and other health issues could be tapped as farm labourers under their guidance - the slow pace of life and the quiet sensory environment can produce a healing and rejuvenating effect.

Second, the farms can host cash-strapped, non-profit organisations and social enterprises that need large areas of low-cost land to operate - these organisations can run the farms in place of paying rent.

Third, this community can provide a healthy retirement option for cash-strapped seniors who may otherwise need long-term government assistance.

Lastly, the farms may be able to pay for themselves by selling their surplus produce. The selective use of technology, such as exposing the plants to LED lights at night, can increase yield significantly while keeping the crops organic.

Initiatives such as Camphill Communities have proven that such inclusive communities are possible. I appeal to the Government to consider this win-win solution that provides meaningful employment while supporting inclusion.

Eric Chen Yixiong