An ambitious "30 by 30" goal - to produce 30 per cent of Singapore's nutritional needs locally by 2030 - was announced in Parliament last week. Given that Singapore imports more than 90 per cent of its food now, some citizens might greet with a degree of scepticism the prospect that almost one-third of the food that the country needs can be home-grown in just over a decade. Also, in the mental geography of many, Singapore is an industrialised nation which left behind its agricultural past because of a practical decision taken decades ago to put scarce land to best economic use. While that decision made sense in its time, the circumstances have changed not only for Singapore but also for the world at large.
The crux of the issue was encapsulated in the Global Food Security Index released last year. It found that Singapore is top in the world when it comes to ensuring that its citizens have access to safe and nutritious food at affordable prices in the short and long term. But given that Singapore imports most of its food, climate change, conflict, trade disruptions and the like could disrupt its food security by affecting other food-producing countries. Singapore's high score was due largely to its being a high-income economy and one with the lowest tariffs on agricultural imports among countries in the index. However, Singapore is vulnerable to climate changes, such as a rise in temperature, drought and flooding.