Singapore has taken another step towards food security with the imminent setting up of a research institute that will help it to grow more of its own food. The Singapore Institute of Food and Biotechnology Innovation, being set up by the Agency for Science, Technology and Research by the middle of next year, forms part of Singapore's efforts to produce 30 per cent of its nutritional needs by 2030 - its "30 by 30" target. It currently imports 90 per cent of its food, which clearly makes it vulnerable in the event that climate change hits global food production. This threat, however, is accompanied by opportunity. The agri-food industry in Asia is projected to double its spending on food over the next decade - from US$4 trillion (S$5.5 trillion) now to US$8 trillion by 2030.
Singapore's own vulnerability can propel it to play a role that goes far beyond its size in ameliorating the food insecurity of other nations along with its own, if it can leverage its strengths in research and development (R&D). It is a promising innovation hub for agri-food because of its strong academic base, sustained government support, emphasis on R&D, and attractiveness to investors driven by its overall pro-business environment and social stability. Technology, in particular, is a valuable multiplier of Singapore's contributions to food security. For example, big data, sensors and biotech can help with crop yield and nutritional quality, cold chain technology can help keep food fresh, and tracking technology can provide assurance as to the origins of food.