The import of shrimp from Saudi Arabia exemplifies how far Singapore has been casting its net to ensure food security, including for an item that is quite a staple for dishes here. Singapore imports prawns from all over the world, including neighbours such as Thailand, Malaysia and Indonesia, and places as far as Canada and Ecuador. Saudi Arabia's place in the supply chain represents the continuing efforts being made to diversify sources. Bringing in frozen shrimp from Saudi Arabia, the first time Singapore is doing so from the Middle Eastern kingdom, could spark greater trade between the two countries as well in an economic spin-off that cements their broader relationship. Such initiatives are necessary, along with an increase in local food production, so the nation is not held hostage by food shortage or other crises.
According to the Singapore Food Agency, the country imports more than 90 per cent of its food. In 2018, local farms produced only 13 per cent of vegetables, 9 per cent of fish, and 24 per cent of eggs. Consequently, Singapore is a price-taker on the global food market. Such dependence can make the country vulnerable not only to price fluctuations, but also to outbreaks of food diseases, the closure of ports in exporting nations, or to inimical political changes. Diversification of food supply sources makes Singapore more secure as a society. The key is to have a sense of which supply chains might be disrupted, and to be able to place alternative orders and secure supplies ahead of time. That approach must be complemented by promoting local production as an important secondary strategy in ensuring the resilience of food supplies. Singaporeans need to support such efforts, including by checking out their nearest markets for locally produced eggs, vegetables and fish, thus helping the farms behind them to survive.