Raising Local Production with the 30 by 30 Goal
Although import source diversification has served us well, COVID-19 underscores the importance of local production, which provides a buffer supply in the event our import sources are disrupted. In 2019, Min(EWR) announced SFA’s ambitious goal to produce 30% of our nutritional needs locally by 2030, up from less than 10% currently. The ‘30by30’ goal, to be met within our land constraints of less than 1% of it is designated for agricultural use.
We are not starting from scratch. In 2019, our local farms contributed to the following key food production of our total food consumption:
||Local Production as % of consumption
| Hen shell eggs
||528 million pieces
|| 4,700 tonnes
| Leafy vegetables
|| 12,700 tonnes
- Production figures for hen shell eggs are rounded to nearest million pieces while fish and leafy vegetables are rounded to nearest hundreds.
Grow More with Less, Sustainably
To achieve ‘30 by 30’ within such tight land constraints, SFA will work with our agri-food industry to transform into one that is highly productive and employs climate-resilient, resource-efficient and sustainable technologies. Technology is the key enabler to help farms to ‘grow more with less’.
For example, indoor multi-storey LED lighting vegetable farms and indoor multi-storey Recirculating Aquaculture Systems can produce 10 to 15 times more vegetables and fish per hectare than traditional vegetable and land-based fish farms, respectively. Besides being highly productive, such farming technologies have the important additional advantage of being resilient against climate change.
Allocating land and seaspace to facilitate farms to scale-up production
To expand local food production, since 2017, SFA has been tendering agricultural land to agri-food companies who compete based on technology, productivity and track record. We are also looking to plan and redevelop the larger Lim Chu Kang area, taking into consideration feedback from farmers for centralised facilities and services to reduce the cost of food production.
SFA is also looking into tapping on the deeper Southern Waters of Singapore to boost local fish production. We have launched a tender for a one-year study of potential Southern Waters sites, which will allow us to assess the potential environmental impact of farming activities in the area. We are also engaging nature groups on raising local fish production while mitigating the impact on the marine environment.
SFA has been looking to unlock more alternative spaces locally, such as vacant interim State properties and rooftops. In 2019, we successfully launched a pilot project to carry out commercial urban farming on the rooftop of a HDB multi-storey carpark. On 12 May 2020, SFA launched a tender for 9 of 16 rooftop sites on HDB Multi-Storey Car Parks across the island for urban rooftop farming. Moving forward, SFA will work with agencies to launch more MSCP rooftop sites in the second half of 2020.
Commercial urban farms have the added advantage of bringing agriculture closer to Singaporeans and attunes them to SFA’s efforts to ensure food security. Singaporeans can engage in individual and community farming of edibles at these farms. Apart from being directly involved in food production, they will be able to appreciate the process and hard work behind bringing food from ‘farm to fork’.
Funding Support for Local Farms
SFA provides strong support to the industry to adopt such innovative farming technologies and engage in R&D. An example of this is our $63 million Agriculture Productivity Fund (APF), which co-funds high tech, productive farming systems with better environmental control and to boost production capabilities and capacity. As of end March, $38 million has been committed from the APF to support 110 farms. The APF can also co-fund R&D and test-bedding of technologies.
As of end last year, APF-supported farms have cumulatively produced:
- About 1,631 tonnes of leafy vegetables, accounting for about 13% of local production in 2019
- More than 528 tonnes of food fish, accounting for about 11% of local production in 2019
- Over 46 million pieces of hen shell eggs, accounting for about 9% of local production in 2019
|Photo credit: Singapore Aquaculture Technologies
Singapore Aquaculture Technologies, a coastal fish farm, adopted a closed-containment aquaculture system that allows water used to culture the fishes which is separated from sea water, enabling fish production to be resilient to fluctuations in external environmental conditions.
|Photo credit: N&N Agriculture Pte Ltd
N&N Agriculture Pte Ltd implemented a fully automated system for crate washing, eggs and wrapping of egg trays which helped the farm achieve savings in manpower and water.
In April 2020, in view of the COVID-19 circumstances and to increase the momentum in achieving our ’30 by 30’ goal, SFA established a $30 million “30x30 Express” grant. This grant will provide funding support for the local agri-food industry to expand their production capacities and accelerate the ramping up of local food production of eggs, leafy vegetables and fish over the next six to 24 months. These are food items that are commonly consumed in Singapore, and which Singapore already has capabilities to produce locally. The grant will also provide co-funding of productivity-enhancing technology systems.
The Singapore Food Story R&D Programme made available $144 million in research funding to enable R&D in three areas – sustainable urban food production, future foods, and food safety science and innovation. SFA and A*STAR respectively launched grant calls for the first two areas in December 2019.
Grooming local talent
SFA looks forward to the transformation of our agri-food sector into one that is high-tech, highly productive and employs climate-resilient and sustainable technologies that will enable us to overcome our land, water, and manpower constraints. This will help to attract the young to the agricultural sector, by showing them that farming can be a promising career that makes use of engineering, IoT, info-comms, bio-chem and R&D skills.
To equip the next generation, SFA has been working with other government agencies, Institutes of Higher Learning (IHLs) and industry stakeholders on manpower development, such as via our Work-Study Programme (formerly known as “Earn and Learn Programme”) with polytechnics. We will also be launching a Graduate Certificate programme in Food Science & Technology with NTU and Wageningen University. This programme will cover topics on urban agri-technology, such as post-harvest of agriculture produce and novel food such as microalgae and insects.