Singapore is a nation of food lovers and home to world-class restaurants, delicious hawker food and cuisines from all over the world. With food in such abundance, we have the luxury of being more concerned about what we should eat next, rather than when we’ll have our next meal.
While sustenance may seem like a distant concern, our nation’s food supply remains vulnerable.
Singapore imports a vast majority of its food, and climate change can hit us hard: Soaring temperatures put immense pressure on our earth’s water resources and arable land; oceans heating up increases the occurrence of extreme weather and floods, affecting our food supply at their source and impacting our imports.
We’re taking steps to future-proof our food supply with a broad, three-pronged strategy. Here’s the lowdown on the three food baskets to safeguard our food supply.
1.Diversifying Food Imports
Did you know that Singapore currently imports over 93,611 tonnes of fish, 452,980 tonnes of vegetables and 1.5 million hen eggs every year?
These are just some of the food items that we consume on an annual basis. In total, our sunny island imports more than 90 per cent of our food supply, sourced from over 170 countries and regions.
To secure our food supply, we’re looking into adding to the list of countries from which we source our food. In 2018, we approved new sources of produce like pork, poultry and beef from countries like Mexico, Russia and Japan.
Importers of food items to Singapore will be required to plan against potential supply disruptions, thus helping us to safeguard our food sources.
2. Championing Local Produce
Instead of relying solely on imports from other countries, growing locally is also an integral part of our food security strategy.
Sky Greens, the world’s first low carbon, hydraulic driven vertical farm.
Local farms that rely on climate-resilient and sustainable technology already account for 13 per cent of our leafy vegetables, 24 per cent of our hen eggs and 9 percent of our fish.
Besides being fresher, the carbon footprint of these food items are smaller, as they don’t have to travel long distances to reach Singapore.
To realise our food security goals, we have set an ambitious target to produce 30 percent of our nutritional needs locally by 2030 (30-by-30). Our local farmers will have to leverage technology to grow more with less, overcoming challenges such as land and water scarcity.
The Government has committed $63 million to the Agriculture Productivity Fund (APF), which farmers can tap on to increase productivity. Since 2014, the fund has benefitted over 100 farm projects across our city.
Local fish farms like Barramundi Asia are plumbing the deep waters off the coast to culture Asian sea bass, while vertical farms like Meod and Sustenir grow a bounty of crops, ranging from strawberries to tomatoes.
3. Growing Food Overseas
Homegrown businesses making headway in foreign countries will be supported by both the Singapore Food Agency (SFA) and Enterprise Singapore (ESG) to transform and grow.
Barrumundi Asia operates the largest barrumundi farm in Australia
By overcoming manpower and land constraints, these companies will be able to bring down their costs, and reduce the price of food being exported back to Singapore.
Netatech, a local vegetable producer, has built new farms in Thailand to supply vegetables back to Singapore. These overseas farms are fully owned and operated by Singapore and they maintain the same high-quality standards and pesticide-free control as Netatech’s farms in Singapore.
Plans are in the pipeline for the company to start farms across the region—from the Philippines to Myanmar and Indonesia—bringing a great variety of produce back home
Two local fish farms—Barrumundi Asia and Apollo Aquaculture Group, have also expanded their operations to Australia and Brunei respectively. Today, the former operates the largest barramundi farm in Australia, while the latter manages and monitors their extensive Brunei operations from Singapore.
Game for change: Doing your Part
for Singapore’s Food Security
While Singapore is a paradise for foodies, we certainly shouldn’t take our situation for granted. Here are some ways you can help safeguard Singapore’s food security.
Support Local Produce
Since the produce from local farmers don’t have to be transported across oceans to get here, you’ll be eating fresher and more nutritious nosh and saving the environment all at once.
When shopping for groceries, keep an eye out for labels from the Singapore Quality Egg Scheme, Good Agricultural Practice for Vegetable Farming Scheme and Good Aquaculture Practice for Fish Farming Scheme.
Reduce your Food Waste
Having a dedicated log of the excess food you throw away will help you to figure out your family’s consumption patterns, and how much your loved ones eat in a given month. If you eat out regularly, be sure to order only what you can finish.
You may also want to use a grocery list to ensure that you’re not buying more food than your household needs. Saving on unnecessary purchases isn’t just great for the environment, it’ll save you money in the long run.
Donate Unwanted Groceries
Before you throw out excess groceries, you may also want to consider donating it to a food bank. Not only will you be helping a charitable cause, but you’ll be helping to play a small part in saving the environment. However, do make sure that your groceries are in good condition and have not expired or gone bad!