Pair receive awards for smart farming solutions

Mr Koh Shao Cong (third from left) and Ms Oh Su Chin (fourth from right) received their award from Minister of State Maliki Osman (centre) at the Youth AG-Summit Awards Ceremony on Tuesday. Also receiving a special award was the late Toh Jun Pen's father (second from left), who took the award on his son's behalf. PHOTO: BAYER (SOUTH EAST ASIA) PTE LTD

SINGAPORE - Two Singaporeans received local awards from Minister of State Dr Mohamad Maliki Bin Osman at the Youth SG-Summit Awards Ceremony on Tuesday.

Koh Shao Cong and Oh Su Chin will represent Singapore at next month's Youth AG-Summit, themed "feeding a hungry planet", in Canberra, Australia.

Along with 100 counterparts from 33 countries they will look at how agricultural research and development can boost food productivity, quality and safety.

The local duo were selected by a panel of judges from the National Youth Achievement Council and pharmaceutical giant Bayer.

As Singapore imports most of its food supply, 24-year-old Ms Oh, a food science graduate working in the Agri-Food Veterinary Authority, believes it is essential to improve local food production.

Undergraduate Mr Koh, 25, added: "With agro-technology farming system, rooftop hydroponics and vertical farming, we can optimise land use and make urban farming possible in Singapore."

A special award was also presented to late student Toh Jun Pen, who died aged 17 after he submitted his entry. The award was received by his father and members of ITE College (West).

The late Mr Toh was recognised for a smart automated rice farming system which he developed with his team from ITE College (West) to cultivate rice in urbanised Singapore. His prototype consists of a fibre tank, a basic pump, solar panels, soil, a school of small fish and rice plants.

The hydroponic paddy field is stacked vertically to save space. The fibre tanks can be re-used after each rice harvest, making the system environmentally friendly.

Dr Maliki said: "Food security and food supply resilience are issues close to our hearts, and vital to our survival."

According to the United Nations, the world's population increases by 233,000 people every day and by 2050, it has been estimated that there will be 9 billion people.

In light of the growing challenges of global food security, Dr Maliki said: "It is important for our next generation to develop interests and capabilities in safeguarding our food security, and contribute to the global conservation and sustainable agriculture."

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