In 2019, the The Singapore Food Agency (SFA) announced a target of producing 30% of Singapore’s nutritional needs by 2030, up from less than 10%. The aim is to hit the target by producing more vegetables, fruit, and protein sources, such as poultry and fish. In April 2020, the SFA also announced it is launching a SGD $30 million grant to boost the country’s agrifood industry. The fund is dubbed ’30×30 Express’ in reference to Singapore’s goal of domestically sourcing at least 30% of its food by 2030. This poses the question: can decentralized home farming help to solve the issue and deliver sustainable agriculture to Singaporeans?
The hydroponics company Aerospring says yes. Their hydroponic systems, which allow gardeners to grow indoors and outdoors all year round, have been estimated to grow over 100kg of fresh produce annually, in just 1 m2 of space. They developed their systems to grow a wide variety of edible plants, from lettuces, pak choy, kale, basil, herbs such as parsley and rosemary, and tomatoes, cucumber, chilis, and many more.
Most people living in urban areas are almost entirely dependent on food systems for sustenance. Few, if any, urban dwellers grow enough of their own produce to be self-sufficient and this has created a fragile globalized system that brings into question food security across the planet.
Turning to food safety, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) estimates that each year, in the US alone, 48 million people get sick from a foodborne illness, 128,000 are hospitalized, and 3,000 die. Often, food gets contaminated in the production, processing, and distribution, across the entire supply chain.
Given these challenges and concerns, it makes sense for consumers to take matters into their own hands, and grow their own food. However, in land-scarce Singapore, this poses many problems. People typically do not have access to their own space for a garden. Community gardens are useful, and certainly help with the solution, but do not solve the problem, and many just do not have the time to manage a soil garden, and therefore, this is not a very real solution.
In order to produce 30% of Singapore’s nutritional needs by 2030, we need to consider how consumers can play a role in this effort. Decentralized home farming may be the key to meeting these targets, while also contributing to increased nutritional intake and overall better health.
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