Intervention by Mr Desmond Tan, Minister of State for Sustainability and the Environment, at the Sixth APEC Ministerial Meeting on 19 August 2021
1 Allow me to begin by thanking New Zealand for hosting this Ministerial Meeting. This allows us to exchange ideas to enhance food security, despite the on-going pandemic.
Global challenges to food security
2 Much has been spoken about the growing food demand and how climate change threatens global food supply.
Steps to ensure food security
3 We all face the challenge of feeding our populations sustainably. Going forward, we will have to stay nimble and harness innovation and technology.
4 Singapore is no exception. As a small city state, we have limited natural resources, including space needed for food production. Currently, less than 10% of our food demand is produced locally. Yet, we have set ourselves an ambitious goal to produce 30% of our nutritional needs locally by 2030. We call this our "30 by 30" goal. Given our resource constraints, we need to leverage on innovation and technology to transform our agriculture sector to be more productive, climate resilient and resource efficient.
5 For example, innovations such as purpose-built closed containment aquaculture farms can produce many more times the production level of coastal farms. Another example is how indoor vertical vegetable farms can reach yields of 10 to 15 times that of traditional soil-based farms, while using less land. Growing food in controlled environments also has the benefit of minimizing the impact of climate change and extreme weather. Singapore is also looking at novel food production, such as alternative proteins, which are poised to be game changers for high-yield food production.
6 At the same time, we have invested S$144 million to fund research in sustainable urban food production, alternative proteins, and food safety. Through these efforts, we aim to grow a vibrant and forward-looking agri-tech and food ecosystem.
Maintaining food trade flows
7 Besides innovations in food production, a key contributor to food security is the smooth flow of food and essential goods. The 2021 APEC Ministerial Statement on Food Security is a clear demonstration of APEC's commitment to this. Building on it, there is value to look at innovative ways to increase connectivity between countries. One possibility is to augment the current point-to-point mode of transport for food with other modalities such as transhipment through the trusted third countries. This can help build greater resilience into the supply chains.
8 Given global trends, it is important for agriculture and food systems to become more productive, climate-resilient, and sustainable. We are happy that APEC is placing more focus on innovation and technology. We look forward to sharing our experience as we progress on our food journey.
9 Thank you.