As a small island state with limited resources, Singapore faces inherent challenges to be self-sufficient in food. Currently, over 90 per cent of our food is imported from overseas. To enhance our food security, we have set an ambitious ’30 by 30’ goal – to build the capacity and capability of our agri-food industry to produce 30 per cent of our nutritional needs sustainably by 2030. To this end, we need to transform our farms to be more productive in a sustainable manner. Beyond that, consumer support is also key. How do we aid recognition of the Singapore brand of fresh, quality and sustainable produce?
SG Fresh Produce Badges
The SG Fresh Produce Badges were launched in February 2022 to distinguish and denote quality-assured and sustainably-grown local produce. The three badges follow a step-up system (1-star, 2-star, 3-star) and indicate the increasingly positive attributes of local produce from participating farms. Through these three badges, farmers can brand themselves in producing food that are fresh, free from synthetic pesticides, grown sustainably through the efficient use of resources, and which meet international best practices.
The 2-Star GAP Certification
The 2-Star GAP Certification is a voluntary scheme pegged to international benchmarks. It signifies farms which have adopted the code of Good Agricultural Practice (SG-GAP). To achieve this certification, farms must meet the Singapore Standard (SS) that is relevant to their farm’s produce:
The Standards are developed to provide guidance to local farms on the i) requirements for a good farm management system and ii) best farm practices in the areas of food safety, produce quality, environmental management, worker health, safety and welfare, as well as animal health & welfare. By following these Standards and obtaining the 2-Star GAP certification, local farms demonstrate that they have achieved quality assurance in agriculture, aquaculture or egg production while minimising impact to the environment.
Hallmark of Good Farm Management
A key aspect of the certification process requires farms to develop a farm management system and farm documentation. This documentation includes a list of standard operating procedures (SOP) to ensure good control and consistency in operation and product quality, and that records are established to ensure product traceability. Farms are also required to have in place a sound business continuity plan in case of any unforeseen disruptions.
In addition, GAP-certified farms are encouraged to conduct regular internal audit checks to ensure effective implementation, as well as conduct continual training for staff to ensure they are competent in GAP standards and follow good food safety practices.
Exemplifying Best Farm Practices
Optimising Animal Health and Welfare
To obtain GAP certification, farmers have to ensure that their farming practices are conducive and optimal to animal health and welfare. Such practices include adhering to strict biosecurity measures, as well as establishing animal welfare SOPs.
All vehicles entering the farm compound are sanitised at the entrance as part of N&N Agriculture’s biosecurity measures to prevent cross-contamination.
N&N Agriculture, a local egg farm which received GAP-certification in February 2022, is one such farm that has implemented biosecurity measures in its farm. The farm’s structure and layout are designed to prevent cross-contamination between layer hens of different age groups. They also have strict control measures for staff movement to uphold the integrity of biosecurity between the sanitised and un-sanitised areas
In addition to biosecurity, N&N established a healthy and stress-free environment for their hens. Their closed house system features cooling pads and fans to regulate the environment and maintain a hen-friendly temperature with good ventilation. The hens are fed quality feed through an automatic feeding system, provided with a consistent supply of water and lighting controlled to prevent the layer hens from being startled.
Ensuring Produce Quality
A GAP-certified farm is a mark of quality produce. To ensure high standards, produce with 2-star badges come from farms that have established sound practices in their farming operation.
Kok Fah Technology Farm ensures the production of good quality produce by implementing strict protocols on the farm. Image credit: Kok Fah Technology Farm
For instance, Kok Fah Technology Farm (ST18), which received 2-Star GAP certification in January 2022, has strict SOPs with control measures in hazards prevention to ensure quality production. These SOPs cover all phases of farm operations from pre-production (nursery) and cultivation, to harvest, post-harvest handling, and delivery to retail outlets.
One of the best practices is Kok Fah’s usage of cold chain system. Upon harvest, the vegetables are rapidly cooled to a temperature of four to six degrees Celsius to seal its optimal freshness and extend the shelf-life of the vegetables. Immediately after, the vegetables are packed and stored in the cold room before distribution. The whole process ensures minimal quality deterioration in the harvested vegetables. As a control measure to prevent hazards, the farm also has automated machine packing which minimises human handling and in turn reduces possible contamination of the harvested vegetables.
Minimising impact to the Environment
Beyond best practices which are beneficial to the farm and its produce, farmers must also ensure that their practices do not negatively impact their surrounding environment. To guard against environmental degradation, farmers are expected to put in place guidelines to safeguard the surrounding areas.
Drum filters in EcoArk remove solid wastes before the water is discharged into the sea. EcoArk ensures that their farming environment is kept free from contamination by having in place established environmental management practices. Image credit: ACE(R)
For EcoArk, a 2-Star GAP-certified fish farm since 20 May 2022, this means strict protocols for farm biosecurity, water quality management and waste discharge management. Incoming water is treated, regularly monitored and maintained to ensure optimal fish growth. Water is also treated before discharge, while solid wastes are removed and channelled to a sludge tank. Dead fish are also properly disposed of.
Get 2-Star GAP Certified Today
Join the progressive farms and become GAP-certified so your produce can proudly wear the 2-Star badge!
There are numerous benefits to being 2-Star GAP certified. The badge distinguishes and represents local produce that are fresh, quality-assured and produced in an environmentally-friendly and socially responsible manner with considerations of worker and animal health & welfare. Moreover, the 2-Star certification ensures traceability, thereby providing added assurance to consumers knowing that the produce hails from a trusted and reliable source.
For SFA-licensed farms, kick-start your certification process today to get your badge of quality assurance and distinguish yourself from the rest of the market. For more information on the certification process, get in touch with your Account Manager who will guide you on the next steps to take, or drop an enquiry through our online feedback form.