New guidelines for local farms to ensure produce is safe, sustainable

The guidelines are meant to assure consumers that produce from local vegetable farms is fresh, free from synthetic pesticides and grown sustainably.
The guidelines are meant to assure consumers that produce from local vegetable farms is fresh, free from synthetic pesticides and grown sustainably.PHOTO: LIANHE ZAOBAO

SINGAPORE - New guidelines to help local farms ensure the production of clean and green local produce were launched on Thursday (March 25).

They are meant to assure consumers that produce from local vegetable farms is fresh, free from synthetic pesticides and grown sustainably - with efficient use of resources and without compromising the environment.

"SS 661: Specification for Clean and Green Urban Farms - Agriculture", the standard including the guidelines, was launched by the Singapore Food Agency (SFA) together with Enterprise Singapore, the Singapore Manufacturing Federation - Standards Development Organisation and Republic Polytechnic (RP).

It contains criteria that urban vegetable farms have to meet in terms of farm management, techniques and practices to achieve a clean and green production system.

A clean farm production system refers to one that does not use pollutive farm inputs, such as synthetic pesticides, and does not leave behind undesirable residue for consumers and the environment.

A green farm production system ensures the efficient use of farm inputs and natural resources, the recycling of farm waste to minimise impact on the environment and ecosystem, as well as the optimisation of farm production.

The criteria include minimum competency requirements for farm employees, plans for the responsible management of resources, green procurement practices and farm operations, as well as procedures for handling customer complaints, farm product recalls and conducting internal audits.

The standard will also help vegetable farms adopt smart farming techniques and practices to reduce wastage of resources, incorporate circularity in their resource management, and optimise operational efficiency.

Dr Tan Lee Kim, SFA director-general of food administration and deputy chief executive, said these guidelines are timely, given the increasing challenges from climate change.

"(Climate change) can put a strain on food supply chains, including our local food production... The standard will be critical in ensuring our local farms employ farming practices that make efficient use of our resources to grow more in land-scarce Singapore and are sustainable in the long run," Dr Tan said.

"As a result, local urban farms will be recognised for producing safe, quality food, using resource-efficient practices in a clean and sustainable environment. This will allow us to differentiate and brand local produce, further strengthening Singapore's reputation for quality produce as we work towards achieving our '30 by 30' goal."

The "30 by 30" goal is for Singapore to produce 30 per cent of its nutritional needs locally by 2030.

The SFA will work with local farmers and industry players to promote and raise awareness of the standard.

RP will also launch a three-day training course from April to assist farms in adopting the standard.