The newly enhanced Agri-food Cluster Transformation (ACT) Fund enables a greater range of our local farms to embark on transformation projects to enhance their capability, capacity and sustainability.
To optimise limited land and sea space, Singapore is leveraging technology and sustainable practices to build its farming capability and capacity.
When one thinks of Singapore, farming does not often come to mind. Yet, our little red dot of only 700 square kilometres has over 260 farms contributing to the nation’s ’30 by 30’ goal of building capability and capacity to produce 30% of our nutritional needs locally and sustainably by 2030.
In terms of the types of food our country produces, we are probably most familiar with vegetables and eggs. This is not surprising since more than 90 per cent of our farms are currently engaged in the production of leafy vegetables, hen eggs, and fish. However, did you know that we also have farms growing ‘other’ food types such as fruited vegetables, mushrooms, and shrimp – all of which play an important role in bolstering our food security?
Universal Aquaculture’s modular six-tier breeding tanks, which features a fully-controlled environment, is capable of producing 36 tonnes of shrimps in a 1,300 square metre space annually.
One such farm engaged in the production of ‘other’ food types is Universal Aquaculture (UA), which focuses on the intensive production of vannamei shrimps in a fully controlled indoor environment. Set up in 2020, the company’s vision is to produce food using environmentally sound and sustainable methods.
Through high-tech processes, such as a six-tier controlled-environment rearing system, the farm currently produces around 3 tonnes of shrimps in a month, in a warehouse space of 1,300 square metres.
According to UA, one of the major productivity challenges has been the manual farming processes, which are “time consuming and inefficient”. To support their automation upgrading plans, the farm tapped on SFA’s Agri-food Cluster Transformation (ACT) fund.
Launched in April 2021, the $60 million ACT fund supports the transformation and growth of our local agri-food sector through co-funding their efforts in three areas: a) Technology Upscaling, b) Innovation and Test-bedding and c) Capability Upgrading. This is part of SFA’s efforts to help the agri-food industry transform into one that is able to grow more with less, sustainably, as we work towards our ’30 by 30’ goal.
UA utilised the Fund’s Capability Upgrading component - which supports the purchase of pre-scoped farming equipment, systems and small-scale pilot trials to increase farm productivity, sustainability and improve circularity of resource use - to purchase a robot to take over the daily process of sampling water and monitoring water parameters.
It currently takes a technician two to three hours, using a mobile probe, to collect water data manually from the sumps of all the 33 pods in the farm. With the aid of the autonomous robot, however, the same job can be completed in less than half the time, allowing UA to save an estimated 4,600 man hours each year.
Moreover, because the robot automatically uploads all data into cloud, human error is virtually eliminated.
A prototype of UA’s automated water sampling robot. This autonomous robot can take 8 sets of water parameter readings and 2 sets of mineral parameter readings, and can handle up to 60 pods in a single day.
Beyond productivity, ACT also supports farms to reduce pollution and waste. Farms are able to leverage ACT to cover technological implementations and certification-related fees required to meet the Clean and Green (C&G) Standard.
Enhancements to the ACT Fund
To further support our local agri-food industry to grow a wider variety of food catering to Singapore consumers’ taste buds, the ACT fund has been reviewed and enhanced. From 1 Apr 2022, a higher funding cap and co-funding ratio of up to 70% will be allocated to the production of a wider range of food types, including fruited vegetables, mushrooms and shrimps, which were previously eligible for up to 50% co-funding only.
This will provide farms that are involved in the production food types aside from leafy vegetables, hen eggs and fish with higher co-funding support to invest in farming solutions and further ramp up production.
Announced changes to the ACT Fund that came into effect from 1 April 2022.
For UA, the enhancement means being able to potentially tap on the ACT funding again to purchase more advanced equipment for possible future farm expansions. They can also apply for co-funding support in further technological improvements ranging from automated tank cleaning and automated harvesting, to the development of their own sustainable feed to improve the circularity of resource use.
Our ’30 by 30’ goal: It’s all hands on deck
As funding support for the agri-food industry increases to grow a wider variety of food, demand from consumers to meet this increased supply is equally important to develop a vibrant and productive agri-food sector. As a consumer, show your support by purchasing local produce the next time you head out to the supermarket – these can be easily identified by the SG Fresh Produce badges on packaging!
Together, we can support our local farms in improving their productivity and sustainability, as we all work towards the ’30 by 30’ goal and transform Singapore into a tropical agri-hub of the future.
To find out more about the enhanced ACT fund, visit SFA website.
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Last updated on Tuesday, April 14, 2020