Aiming to enchance Food Security and Sustainablity
Issue: More than 90% of food is currently imported.
In Asia, there is rapid food demand growth with meat and seafood consumption projected to increase by 33% by 2030. There is falling yield growth, and yields of corn and soybean are more than 50% below the United States. There is also limited access to arable land and limited related issues.
Singapore’s reliance on imports for 90% of its food puts it at the mercy of external forces in exporting countries, the majority of which are beyond the Republic's control. According to Singapore Food Agency (SFA), Singapore imports food from some 170 countries.
Moreover, the supply is not consistent due to climate change, extreme weather incidents, loss of land to produce food and outbreaks in diseases of animal stock and plants. This has resulted in many countries prioritising feeding their own population.
An Economist Intelligence Unit report assesses Singapore to rank first on the food security index. However, when considering climate-related and natural resource risk factors, Singapore falls to 12th place.
There has to be a change. Home-based producers now meet less than 10% of Singapore's nutritional needs.
Solution: To Transform Singapore’s Agri-food Industry
Announced in 2019, SFA has set a goal for locally produced food to meet 30% of Singapore's nutritional needs by 2030, reducing the country's reliance on imports and its vulnerability to supply interruptions. One that is productive, innovative and sustainable.
Therefore, the Government came up with four strategies to tackle this:
- Develop food-related spaces and infrastructure such as the Agri-Food Innovation Park (AFIP) which will help by colocating urban agriculture, aquaculture and novel food activities. Exploiting alternative spaces such as vacant state buildings, rooftops and the deep sea
- Harness innovation and research. Tapping on technology, expanding agri-food production and automating systems via robotics and sensors. Funding of up to S$144 million was committed to the Singapore Food Story R&D Programme.
- Grow the industry and ecosystem. Grooming experts in the field with Singaporean talent in urban food production processes and business models. For example, Republic Polytechnic offers a part-time diploma course in urban agricultural technology, covering technologies for food production, farming processes and management.
- Engage the public. Encouraging consumers in choosing homegrown produce with initiatives with SG framers' markets and supermarkets. An initiative by SFA is coming up with a new brand logo to make local produce easier to be identified. Raising awareness on food security.
There is this Business Opportunity with major opportunities in scaling up existing production and producing future foods.
To increase productivity, the production of vegetables, fish, eggs and other primary produce is geared up to be high-tech. Challenges that need to be faced are limited land allocated for farming, high production costs, low consumer awareness, and resistance to purchasing pricier local produce. The government is exploring partnership opportunities such as using commercial spaces for urban farming and master planning in new infrastructure in the Agri-Food Innovation Park.
There are also opportunities in food research such as for novel foods, alternative proteins and focusing on nutrient-dense food.
Singapore's ’30 by 30’ goal will not only enhance Singapore’s food security but also in regional collaboration for a rapidly urbanising Asia.