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“Leadership is all about being positive with challenges.”
Deputy General Manager
Prime Aqua Sea Farm
Some individuals cultivate a love for farming, others are born into the tradition. Some of Tony’s earliest childhood memories are of donning rubber boots to help out with the chores on his family’s pig farm.
As one of the leaders of Prime Group International — a family business that traces its farming roots back over nearly a century and owns 25 supermarket outlets nation-wide — Tony now embarks on a journey both foreign and familiar with Prime Aqua Sea Farm, which strives to feed the heartlands with sustainably-farmed seafood.
Tony shares his vision for Prime Aqua Sea Farm, and his thoughts on the potential of aquaculture in Singapore.
Farming requires resources and attention, and we know the heart of farming — which is adapting to myriad environmental changes. Let’s say the quality or salinity of the water changes. How do you cope with that? That’s the mindset of a farmer, even if you cross over from animal husbandry to sea farming.
You don’t go into farming to get rich fast. We’re looking at a timeline that spans generations — thirty years instead of three months.
The affordability of our produce is the top priority, so we’ve tried to mitigate all the risks of sea cages in the process. We use a hybridised model of conventional farming and automation because the vision is to produce affordable fish for Singaporeans.
You could be a visionary, have strong technical abilities or be a good publicist, but what’s more important is to identify problems — to be able to say ‘that’s one more unknown that’s now known’.
My teammates have the other skill sets, but the ability to be positive with challenges is important for a leader. Leadership stems down to human management — taking care of people who work long hours or in a harsh environment, and building a sense of camaraderie.
“The chairman of the group is actually living on the sea farm,” Tony shares with a smile. “So I would say that he’s as much a farmer as any of us.”
As Deputy General Manager of Prime Aqua Sea Farm, the lion’s share of Tony’s work lies in managing the team, sharing information on potential challenges, and strategising over harvest planning and market pricing.The farm’s tranquillity and the calmness of the open sea leaves him invigorated for the challenges ahead.
As part of the company culture, group dinners involving both staff and senior management occur on a regular basis, with Tony making sure to help set up the dinner tables to show his appreciation for the crew’s hard work.
Tony shares his thoughts on the adaptability, discipline and acumen needed to succeed as a farmer in Singapore.
While sales and the market are important considerations in aquaculture, solving various challenges is part and parcel of Tony’s role. For example, the farm has a proactive policy in disease management and closely monitors water quality.
Keeping the wellbeing of his team in mind is a large part of automation considerations at Prime Aqua Sea Farm. Feeding used to take 15 people over 5 hours, but the farm’s 101 auto feeders now operate to reduce workloads substantially, dropping the workload to 9 people over 2 hours.
Prime Aqua Sea Farm’s fresh and flavourful seafood can be found at Prime Supermarket outlets across the island.
Family tradition and modern-day know-how intertwine at this hybrid sea farm.
The farmers who help us eat better with fresh food.
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