Addressing the need for indoor urban farming solutions, the National University of Singapore (NUS) officially launched the Research Centre on Sustainable Urban Farming (SUrF) on 5 August.
This is done to bring together the diverse expertise of principal investigators across the University to develop novel science- and technology-based solutions for urban farming in Singapore. The launch event was graced by Mr. Lim Kok Thai, Chief Executive Officer of the Singapore Food Agency, as the Guest-of-Honour.
(anti-clockwise from front row extreme right) The NUS Research Centre on Sustainable Urban Farming (SUrF) is led by Professor Prakash Kumar, Director of SUrF, and comprises a multidisciplinary team including Professor Yu Hao, Chair of SUrF’s Management Board; Professor Zhou Weibiao, Co-Chair of SUrF’s Management Board; Associate Professor Sanjay Swarup, Principal Investigator at SUrF; and Associate Professor Chew Fook Tim, Principal Investigator at SUrF
The University has committed S$10 million to set up the new center. Additionally, projects by researchers in SUrF have also secured external research grants of about S$11 million. SUrF commenced operations in January 2022, while a new research facility is expected to be completed in 2023.
“NUS is committed to making significant contributions towards Singapore’s food policy agenda, together with partners in the public sector and the industry. We aim to create a globally competitive research program in sustainable urban farming that incorporates smart agriculture solutions for diverse stakeholders. The Research Centre on Sustainable Urban Farming (SUrF) provides a platform to focus our multidisciplinary efforts and accelerate Singapore’s food security research and innovation,” said Professor Tan Eng Chye, NUS President.
“SUrF boasts an interdisciplinary team with expertise spanning plant science, genomics and gene editing, microbiomes, food science, materials and polymer science, sensor technology, data science, and Artificial Intelligence for indoor farming. Our research efforts in areas such as variety improvement and enhancing nutraceutical values of edible plants could benefit growers and consumers directly. Our novel solutions could contribute to making food production more efficient and sustainable for the long-term benefit of Singapore and the region,” said Professor Prakash Kumar, Director of SUrF.
NUS SUrF was officially launched on 5 August 2022 at an event graced by Guest-of-Honour Mr. Lim Kok Thai (fourth from right), CEO of the Singapore Food Agency, and NUS President Prof Tan Eng Chye (third from right)
A holistic and high-tech approach to food production
SUrF’s research scope covers three stages of food production – namely pre-production, production, and post-production. The Centre aims to develop solutions for growers and collaborate with local industries to address their needs.
A new facility for the Centre is expected to be completed by early 2023, with about 200 square meters of indoor plant growth area for research. There will be three growth rooms and an additional precision growth room where various environmental parameters, such as temperature and the spectrum of light, can be varied to ensure better plant growth with, possibly, improved phytonutrients. Research equipment will include the PlantEye, a phenotyping system to monitor plant growth and record plant health in a non-destructive manner, and several analytical equipment to study nutrient content. The Centre will also have access to the high-tech laboratories at NUS to conduct molecular genetics research, including gene-editing.
Read the entire article at National University of Singapore.