88 proposals received for nine carpark rooftop sites to be used for farming in first tender here

In 2019, SFA launched its pilot multi-storey carpark rooftop farm in Ang Mo Kio. PHOTO: ST FILE

SINGAPORE - Local farmers are jumping at the chance to be among the first crop-growers on carpark rooftops here.

Eighty-eight proposals were submitted in the tender for nine sites at the rooftops of Housing Board (HDB) multi-storey carparks in Singapore to be used for urban farming, said the Singapore Food Agency (SFA) and HDB on Wednesday (June 17). The tender is the first of its kind here.

The nine sites comprise five single sites in Ang Mo Kio, Tampines, Toa Payoh, Hougang, and Choa Chu Kang, and two cluster sites of two sites each in Sembawang and Jurong West. The sites range in size from 1,808 sq m - or one-third of a football field - to 3,311 sq m.

The tender, which was launched last month, closed on Tuesday, said the agencies. Of the 88 proposals received, 74 were for single sites, while the rest were for cluster sites.

Successful tenderers will be able to rent the sites for a period of three years, with the option to renew for two further periods of three years each.

Local farm Edible Garden City, which is located in Queenstown, was one of those who took part in the tender for the site in Tampines.

Its executive director, Mr Bjorn Low, said: "We've experienced first-hand how having a farm located within a housing estate can help to promote the urban farming movement in Singapore, hence we are excited by the opportunity to expand into HDB precincts.

Farms "can't get much closer" to the community than that, he said.

Mr Low added that, if he manages to clinch the tender for the Tampines site, he plans to grow nutrient-dense food, and types of vegetables that are known to help in preventing diseases.

"We also hope to incorporate waste-to-fertility elements, sustainable energy, and a more robust community outreach framework," he added.

The SFA said that the tender was part of plans to make more spaces available for commercial farming, and is one of the strategies adopted by the agency to achieve Singapore's goal of producing 30 per cent of its nutritional needs by 2030, or the 30 by 30 goal.

The tender is also in line with HDB's Green Towns Programme, said the agencies. The scheme seeks to cool HDB towns through the use of greenery, such as on carpark rooftops.

The SFA will continue to work with the HDB to launch more multi-storey carpark rooftop sites for urban farming in the second half of 2020, said the agencies.

Last year, the SFA launched its pilot multi-storey carpark rooftop farm in Ang Mo Kio, run by local farm Citiponics. The 1,800 sq m farm atop the carpark at Block 700 in Ang Mo Kio Avenue 6 can grow up to four tonnes of vegetables a month.

Ms Danielle Chan, co-founder of Citiponics, said the company did not take part in the tender this time round even though it said earlier that it was looking to expand beyond its Ang Mo Kio site.

"After assessing the current business situation because of the Covid-19 outbreak, we have decided to wait to tender at a later timing, when more sites are put up in the next round," said Ms Chan.

She said the response for the tender shows that many are interested to participate in local food production.

"It is a good sign moving forward for Singapore's food production capabilities.

"The variety of participants will bring about healthier competition, which might bring additional benefits to consumers."

Join ST's Telegram channel and get the latest breaking news delivered to you.