Boosting food security - from farm to fork

Minister for the Environment and Water Resources Masagos Zulkifli (third from left) at the launch of the new Singapore Food Agency (SFA) yesterday, with (from left) SFA chairman Lim Chuan Poh, SFA chief executive Lim Kok Thai, Senior Minister of Stat
Minister for the Environment and Water Resources Masagos Zulkifli (third from left) at the launch of the new Singapore Food Agency (SFA) yesterday, with (from left) SFA chairman Lim Chuan Poh, SFA chief executive Lim Kok Thai, Senior Minister of State for the Environment and Water Resources Amy Khor and Permanent Secretary for the Environment and Water Resources Albert Chua.PHOTO: LIANHE ZAOBAO

New agency to oversee all food-related issues, ensure safe produce

The day may come when heat from local incineration plants is used to keep water at fish farms at optimum temperatures, so the tropical marine varieties bred for food can grow better.

Minister for the Environment and Water Resources Masagos Zulkifli yesterday said this is a possibility that can be explored. He was speaking at the launch of the new Singapore Food Agency (SFA), which will manage all things food-related, including the future of food production as well as research into local high-tech farming strategies.

The 815 employees at the SFA are experts drawn from food related departments at three agencies. The statutory board's mission is to ensure and secure a supply of safe food locally.

The SFA will also address all food-related issues, from food production to food hygiene. The now-defunct Agri-Food and Veterinary Authority (AVA) will see 565 of its food security and safety officials transferred to the new agency.

They will be joined by 219 inspectors and other staff from the National Environment Agency (NEA) and 31 food scientists from the Health Sciences Authority (HSA).

Staff started work yesterday at the new agency's premises at Jem in Jurong East and its other offices, including the SFA's research, technology and veterinary public health centres and fishery ports.

The agency's logo depicts fish and leaves entwined together, to represent progressiveness, and the collaboration and partnership between the SFA and various agencies and industry partners.

 

At the launch, Mr Masagos toured the agency's premises and said that he is looking forward to working with it to "write the next chapter of the Singapore food story".

He said that maintaining a secure supply of safe food is important, citing the challenges that Singapore now faces in navigating a rapidly changing global landscape.

"Vital resources, such as water and energy, will be increasingly scarce," Mr Masagos said.

He added that while AVA and the other agencies have worked well together over the years to address food security and safety issues, Singapore must ensure it continues to stay well ahead of the curve.

"The formation of SFA will consolidate the NEA and AVA's capability's in licensing, compliance management and investigation, and HSA's expertise in testing," said Mr Masagos, adding that its formation signals the Government's commitment to strengthen food security and safety, from farm to fork.

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on April 02, 2019, with the headline 'Boosting food security - from farm to fork'. Print Edition | Subscribe