The Sunday Times says

Strawberry farming a sweet beginning

Who would have thought it possible to grow strawberries here? Singapore, after all, left its agricultural past behind a long time ago when it began to urbanise. The reason was sound: A land-scarce city-state set on massive and speedy industrialisation had to decide whether agriculture was feasible and, indeed, necessary at all. The answer was a convincing "no". It would be rational for the country to devote its space and energies to what would make it competitive in the global marketplace.

That same market would, in turn, provide Singapore with the means to import and get the food it needed. Yet, the more recent phenomenon of urban farming - but going upwards instead of on a wide expanse of land - shows a partial return to the agricultural past. Strawberries grown in a vertical farm have now appeared in some supermarkets, attesting to how far agrotechnology has progressed, and to the ingenuity and persistence of urban farmers who want to put every inch of available space to productive use. But they have had to navigate through regulations. Agencies could make their work easier by being flexible and liberalising rules. Vertical farming is a negligible part of the economy at the moment, but it has potential to grow. There were 26 commercial indoor vertical farms here as at the end of April; in 2016, there were just six. There is little reason why this growth trajectory should not be maintained.

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A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Sunday Times on June 24, 2018, with the headline 'Strawberry farming a sweet beginning'. Print Edition | Subscribe