Debate on ministries' budgets: Environment and Water Resources

Local production key to food security: Masagos

Singapore Food Agency to study possibility of expanding land and sea farming

Increasingly, erratic weather owing to climate change may cause disruptions in the global food supply, but Singapore will work on multiple fronts to ensure its food security.

Minister for the Environment and Water Resources Masagos Zulkifli told Parliament yesterday Singapore has three "food baskets" to ensure its food security.

These include having a diversity of food sources, as well as growing food overseas and locally.

Diversification has been a key strategy for Singapore, which imports more than 90 per cent of its food from over 170 countries and regions.

While this enables Singapore to reduce the impact of food supply shortages and price changes, Mr Masagos noted that, ultimately, prices are determined by a combination of other factors, such as import prices, exchange rates and profit margins which suppliers can command.

Local production is also important to buffer the country against global food supply shocks.

"Our vision is to locally produce 30 per cent of Singapore's nutritional needs by 2030, from less than 10 per cent today," he added.

To achieve this, the Government will look at how it can expand Singapore's food production areas on land and in the sea.

Lim Chu Kang could well become the nation's food bowl, with the Singapore Food Agency (SFA) embarking on a study this year on how the larger Lim Chu Kang agriculture area can be redeveloped to enhance food production.

The study will look at the possibility of centralised facilities and services to reduce the cost of food production, said Mr Masagos.

It will also look at how circular economy principles can be introduced, so that the by-product of one farm can be used as an input for another, he said. This could include using animal waste as fertiliser, for example.

  • 16

    Number of rooftop spaces on Housing Board multi-storey carparks across the island, totalling more than 30,000 sq m, that the Singapore Food Agency will tender so that Singaporeans can grow their own food.

SFA will also look at how to unlock the potential of farming at sea. The agency is studying expanding sustainable fish farming in the deeper southern waters of Singapore.

"We will ensure that such aquaculture is productive and environmentally responsible," Mr Masagos said.

Currently, most of Singapore's offshore fish farms are located in the Johor Strait, north of Singapore.

"Like land, every space at sea that can be used for food production must be judiciously managed," he said.

To supplement the increase in local food supply, the Government will encourage Singaporeans here to buy local produce.

This year, for example, has been designated as the Year of Singapore's food story, said Mr Masagos.

There will be more opportunities for Singaporeans to grow their own food, he added, noting that in the coming months, SFA will tender 16 rooftop spaces on Housing Board multi-storey carparks across the island, totalling over 30,000 sq m.

"As we grow our agri-sector, let's get involved in growing food in our own backyards," he said.

Mr Masagos said that amid growing awareness of how the livestock sector is contributing to climate change, alternative proteins are poised to become game-changers.

To ensure the safety of these "novel foods", SFA last year implemented a new regulatory framework requiring companies to seek approval and undergo a scientific pre-market assessment before placing novel foods in the market.

To support its assessment of novel foods, SFA will set up an international expert working group to provide scientific advice on food safety, said Mr Masagos.

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on March 05, 2020, with the headline 'Local production key to food security: Masagos'. Subscribe