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Food security is an important aspect in AVA's mandate to safeguard the well-being of Singapore. To ensure food security, it is not enough to just maintain a steady supply of food for the population. It is also crucial for AVA to ensure that the available food, whether imported, locally produced, in fresh or processed forms, is safe to eat and affordable for all. In this Special Feature, we highlight some of AVA's major initiatives in ensuring food security for Singapore.

AVA's Food Security Roadmap for Singapore

Diversification of food sources and optimisation of local production are
core strategies in the Food Security Roadmap.

Singapore's food security strategies are reviewed regularly to ensure that we can continue to enjoy affordable and safe food.

As a country that imports over 90 percent of our food supply, Singapore is vulnerable to fluctuations in food supply and prices, as well as food safety incidences overseas.

In maintaining food security, it is important to ensure that everyone in Singapore has access to safe and nutritious food at affordable prices in the short and long term. As the national authority that ensures a resilient supply of safe food, AVA has reviewed and reaffirmed its food supply resilience and food safety strategies after wide consultations with the industry and other government agencies. These strategies form part of Singapore's Food Security Roadmap, which was shared with more than 500 stakeholders during AVA's inaugural Food Industry Convention held on 10 October 2013.

The Food Security Roadmap consists of core, "supporting", and "enabling" strategies. Going forward, AVA's core strategies of food source diversification and local production will continue to ensure food security for Singapore.

Singapore's food security strategies are reviewed regularly to ensure that we can continue to enjoy affordable and safe food.

The Food Security Roadmap consists of core, "supporting", and "enabling" strategies. Going forward, AVA's core strategies of food source diversification and local production will continue to ensure food security for Singapore.

Diversifying Sources of Food Imports
In expanding our food source diversity, AVA works closely with the industry to conduct sourcing missions to different countries. In 2013, we led and facilitated overseas sourcing trips to countries such as Indonesia, Philippines, Israel, Poland, Denmark, and China to help our traders build networks with potential suppliers.

Going one step further, food source diversification can be enhanced by moving upstream. In securing food at source, such as through contract farming, we can better control the supply and quality food, as well as obtain the first right of purchase in times of supply shortages. This is already demonstrated through Singapore's investment in a Food Zone in Jilin. AVA has been providing technical advice to the Jilin authorities to help them maintain a disease-free zone within the Food Zone. In due course, we look forward to regular imports of key food items, such as pork and pork products, from Jilin.

Participants at one of the several fish landing sites they visited during the sourcing mission in Indonesia.

Optimising Local Food Production
Local production is another core component of our Food Security Roadmap. In his speech at the convention, Minister for National Development, Mr Khaw Boon Wan shared that local farms "must invest in technology and adopt efficient farming methods so that they can grow more with less land and fewer workers".

AVA has been helping local farms to improve productivity through the Food Fund. In addition, AVA will continue to support farmers with our technical know-how and capability in agricultural R&D. As for farming expertise, AVA encourages companies to study existing technologies overseas and adopt relevant ones.

Rice stockpiled in a government warehouse.

Stockpiling and New Possibilities
Besides diversification and local production, stockpiling is the third core strategy in our Food Security Roadmap. Stockpiling can help to stabilise prices in times of short-term shortages. In Singapore, this strategy is currently applied to rice; it is mandatory for rice importers to hold a two-month stockpile in government warehouses.

During the Food Industry Convention, AVA's CEO, Ms Tan Poh Hong, raised a few possibilities on stockpiling such as:

  • Considering that Singapore is land scarce, can our stockpiles be managed regionally like the  ASEAN Plus Three Emergency Rice Reserve?*
  • Can we explore a virtual stockpile where a futures contract is secured with a big rice producer or  rice producing country, which allows suppliers to be called upon in times of need?

"These are questions that the government and the industry will have to mull over for the purpose of food security. We should leverage on our efficient logistics and distribution system when considering our options," she added.

"Supporting" Strategies
Other than core strategies, the roadmap also consists of "supporting" strategies that are important in the medium to long run. These include food waste reduction, greater use of financial instruments to hedge against short-term food price volatility, as well as greater engagements with social agencies to look into food affordability.

In reducing food waste, AVA and the National Environment Agency (NEA) are working together to educate food manufacturers, retailers, food importers, food producers, and other stakeholders along the food supply chain on waste management. R&D in food waste reduction and recycling is also encouraged. For example, food waste could be reduced through better post-harvest management and storage to prolong shelf-life.

"Enabling" Strategies
"Enabling" strategies ensure that the core and "supporting" strategies in the Food Security Roadmap are effectively implemented. A multi-agency committee has been formed to facilitate coordination and communication among agencies in policy formulation and implementation for the purpose of food security.

Everyone Has a Role to Play
With these strategies, Singapore is in good shape to tackle the rising challenges of food security. However, the government's efforts alone are not enough. Both Mr Khaw and Ms Tan emphasised on the need for the industry and consumers to play their parts, for example, in reducing food wastage. Said Mr Khaw: "Waste can occur anywhere from farm to fork, so everyone needs to do their part. Individually, we can minimise food wastage as consumers, especially when dining at buffet lunch or dinner."

*The ASEAN Plus Three Emergency Rice Reserve (APTERR) is a regional cooperation scheme aimed at strengthening food security and reducing poverty within the ASEAN Member States, the People's Republic of China, Japan, and the Republic of Korea.

At the inaugural AVA Food Industry Convention (L-R): Mr Seah Kian Peng (CEO, NTUC FairPrice Co-operative Ltd); Mr Hiroyuki Konuma (Assistant Director-General and Regional Representative for Asia and the Pacific, FAO); Minister Khaw Boon Wan; Mr Gan Thiam Poh (GPC member for National Development); Ms Tan Poh Hong (CEO, AVA); and Mr Koh Soo Keong (Chairman, AVA).


AVA hosted the inaugural Food Industry Convention on 10 October 2013 at the Orchard Hotel Singapore. Minister for National Development, Mr Khaw Boon Wan, graced the event as the Guest-of-Honour, and announced the launch of AVA's Food Fund Tranche III.

An estimated total of 550 guests attended and they comprised manufacturers, traders, farmers, retailers, logistics providers, R&D institutes, and relevant government agencies.

In addition to a presentation on the Food Security Roadmap by Ms Tan Poh Hong (CEO, AVA), Mr Hiroyuki Konuma (Assistant Director-General and Regional Representative for Asia and the Pacific, FAO) shared further insights on the global trends and development in food security.

Two other speakers – Mr Richard Skinner from Pricewaterhouse Coopers and Mr Foo Say Chuang from CWT Limited – touched on the risks and opportunities involved in the food supply chain, as well as the ways to strengthen it. The convention ended with a panel discussion, with Dr Mohamad Maliki Bin Osman (Minister of State for National Development & Defence), and Professor Paul Teng (Senior Fellow for Food Security at the Centre for Non-Traditional Security Studies) joining the speakers as panellists.

One of the participants, Mr Albert Tee from Vitafood Ingredients International Pte Ltd said: "Mr Konuma gave a good overall view on global trends and development in food security. Mr Foo's segment on strengthening the food supply chain also provided practical insights."

Mr Seah Gueh Hong from Singapore Fruits Imports and Exports Exchange Pte Ltd, on the other hand, said he enjoyed the networking opportunities with other participants, such as refrigerated truck providers and retailers.

From left to right: Panellists Mr Foo Say Chuang, Mr Hiroyuki Konuma, Ms Tan Poh Hong, Dr Mohamad Maliki Bin Osman, Mr Richard Skinner, and Professor Paul Teng.