SINGAPORE - Australia's bush fires have not affected Singapore's food security or air quality, said Minister for the Environment and Water Resources Masagos Zulkifli in Parliament on Monday (Feb 3).
Ferocious bush fires have ravaged the land Down Under for months, destroying about 2,500 homes and killing an estimated one billion native animals and 33 people, including several volunteer firefighters.
Australian capital Canberra and cities including Sydney and Melbourne have been repeatedly shrouded in bush fire smoke that has lowered air quality, causing it to be rated among the worst in the world.
Mr Masagos was replying to a question from Mr Seah Kian Peng (Marine Parade GRC) on how the devastating bush fire season in Australia has affected Singapore's environment and food security.
Mr Masagos reassured that Singapore's food security has not been affected by the bush fires. Australia is an important source of commonly consumed food items for Singapore, such as meat, milk, and sugar.
He noted that while many parts of Australia are affected by the fires, Singapore's food supply from the country remained steady between November last year and January this year.
"Nevertheless, we are mindful that disruptions in food imports, including those linked to the climate, remain a possibility," he said, adding that the Singapore Food Agency has been working with food importers to diversify sources across various countries and to adopt plans to mitigate against supply disruptions.
The Ministry of the Environment and Water Resources is also encouraging Singapore companies to build food production linkages with other countries, said Mr Masagos.
In addition, it is intensifying efforts to boost domestic food production under Singapore's ambitious "30 by 30" goal - to produce 30 per cent of Singapore's nutritional needs locally by 2030. Singapore currently imports 90 per cent of its food, which makes it vulnerable in the event that climate change hits global food production.
Mr Masagos said Singapore has to be serious about growing its food supplies locally, including using technology to produce food in unconventional ways.
Similarly, Singapore's air quality was not affected by the recent fires, as winds over the Republic were not blown from the Australian region, said Mr Masagos.
From November last year to January this year, when the fires took place, air quality here was mostly in the good and moderate range, he added. "This level of air quality is comparable to the same period in previous years."