(Originally published on SFA Facebook)
Relying on what she calls the 4Cs as her tools of the trade, find out what she does and how she can potentially help farmers put more locally farmed fish in the market!
A SINGLE POINT OF CONTACT
As an account manager for land-based fish farms in Singapore, Joyce’s work is different every day.
She advises farms on business development, encourages technology adoption, and helps to clarify or resolve issues.
There’s also the publicity part, where she links them up with SAFEF, an industry-led organisation that promotes the agri-food industry in Singapore, to take part in events such as the SG Farmers’ Market. The upcoming one happening tomorrow at Hillion Mall has a number of fish farms participating.
“With our account management system, farmers know who to reach out to when they have feedback or queries. At the end of the day, farmers should never feel alone or helpless in their journey. We are here to support them wherever possible.”
Good communication skills form the core of Joyce’s role.
“Although circulars and letters are sent to farms, not all farmers fully understand the content. We usually talk to them to explain in detail the more complex policies and the rationale behind them.”
For a more personal touch, Joyce peppers her conversation with Hokkien, a dialect most fish farmers are familiar with.
“Speaking their language helps break down the ‘invisible’ barriers. Getting a message across to them then becomes easier.”
As Singapore imports over 90% of our food, we are vulnerable to food supply disruptions. Part of SFA’s strategy to safeguard food security is to develop the capability of local farms to produce 30% of our nutritional needs by 2030.
Last year, local fish farms produced 4,600 tonnes or 9% of Singapore’s fish consumption, and this number has been rising.
Joyce helps her farms develop their potential to meet or even exceed this target.
“If a certain technology can help farms increase their productivity and farmers find it suitable for their use, we will facilitate the procurement process.”
This includes linking them up with solution providers and applying for available funding, such as SFA’s $63 million Agriculture Productivity Fund to co-fund the systems.
With multiple queries ranging from licensing to R&D, Joyce needs a ready list of contacts to tap on for advice and solutions.
She utilises the SFA resource database where farm account managers share information and contacts.
“It’s ok if you don’t have all the answers right away. But you definitely need to know the people who do.”
GROWING THE INDUSTRY
Although her main role is to support farms, she also develops Singapore’s agri-food industry by working with agencies to seek out new players to set up farms here. This is important, as it ensures the industry grows to be a vibrant and competitive one.
As rewarding as her role is, she notes that the amount of effort put in may not necessarily translate to tangible, concrete outcomes immediately.
“Farms need time to show results, be it in yield or productivity. It also takes time to build good relationships with farmers.”
“Just like in fishing, patience is a virtue in my line of work. You can’t expect to catch a fish immediately after you cast the fishing line.”
It is also necessary to care for the farmers and put oneself in their shoes when it comes to being a good account manager. But caring also means self-care.
“When we take care of ourselves, we are in a better shape to help the farmers.”
So what’s in her self-care kit when she’s out at the farms?
“My hand phone(for GPS and for farmers to drop me a line, pun intended), sunglasses (‘cos glaring sun), poncho (for unexpected downpours), and water bottle (I drink like a fish).”
ROSE AMONG THE THORNS
As the only female in the ‘fish’ account manager team, Joyce found her role challenging at first.
“The farming industry is traditionally dominated by males and farmers were initially doubtful of my ability to help them.”
To build up her knowledge in her area of work, Joyce keeps up-to-date on the latest in SFA and the wider sphere.
“There’s always something to learn – regulations, farming technology, gastronomic trends. The evolving nature of my job keeps me on my toes.”
In SFA and particularly the industry development department, no man is an island.
“To get answers for our farms, we tap into the knowledge and skills of every department in SFA – licensing, labs, policy, etc.
We also work closely with other government agencies on areas such as funding support and business development, as well as resolve cross-agency issues."
Joyce is grateful to her team for chipping in with advice, lending a listening ear or just checking in on one another.
“Just like how fish swims in schools, we work as a team for the betterment of the industry.”
PHOTO: The SFA’s industry development team for fish farms, sans one missing team member (who can be aptly represented by the fish mascot).
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Last updated on Tuesday, April 14, 2020