Presently, under 10 percent of the things Singaporeans eat are grown in Singapore. This is extremely low by global standards but again Singapore has a resident population of almost six million, on a small island, with just 400 acres of true farmland in the entire country.
Four hundred acres is the size of a single modest farm in places like the USA and even a mid-scale Malaysian plantation can be double the size. Yet in Singapore, this is the sum total of all our agricultural land so how on earth are we going to feed millions of people?
The answer is an unprecedented deployment of technology. Vertical farms, advanced hydroponics and growing techniques using nutrients, perfectly calibrated irrigation systems, robotics and 24/7 monitoring. The government is also going to work to utilize urban spaces – rooftops, balconies, alleys – on quite an unprecedented scale to achieve greater food self-sufficiency.
While the investment will be high, Covid-19 has proved the benefits are likely to be worth it. The pandemic showed us that global supply chains can collapse and in times of disruption, governments will prioritize feeding their own populations. A country with no farmland and agriculture is completely at the mercy of its suppliers.
While Singapore has long been somewhat cognisant of this vulnerability – the government does hold strategic food reserves – this simply isn’t enough and some sort of local agricultural base is needed.
Of course, local sourcing doesn’t just improve our security, it also reduces our carbon footprint and can help ensure what is being consumed is of a very high standard. So more local farming seems like a clear win all around. But things are never quite so simple.
Read more at the Independent