Speech by Ms Grace Fu, Minister for Sustainability and the Environment, at the Made in Singapore Fair
Mr Seah Kian Peng, Deputy Chairman of FairPrice Group
Ladies and Gentlemen,
1 Good afternoon, everyone. It is my pleasure to join you at today’s Made in Singapore Fair. I am heartened to see NTUC FairPrice, our major retailer, promoting our local produce and celebrating the efforts of our local farmers and food manufacturers. Today, FairPrice carries over 6,000 locally made products including fresh produce, canned food, and condiments. This is testament to FairPrice’s commitment to support local.
Local Production Key to Singapore’s Food Security
2 Food security is an existential issue many countries grapple with. Challenges such as geopolitical tensions and climate change have caused significant disruptions to global food supplies. As a country that imports more than 90 per cent of our food, Singapore is especially vulnerable to supply disruptions. This is why we adopt a multi-pronged strategy for food security. These are to diversify import sources, grow overseas, and grow local.
3 Local produce helps mitigate the impact of supply disruption. Our “30 by 30” goal seeks to build our agri-food industry’s capability and capacity to sustainably produce 30 per cent of our nutritional needs by 2030. This is an ambitious goal. Achieving it requires highly productive, climate-resilient, and resource-efficient farming methods. We are heartened that many farms understand this and are taking on this challenge.
4 With support from the Government, many of our local farms have found innovative ways to overcome the challenges posed by our land and resource-constraints. In recent years, more farms are deploying technologies to support scalability and sustainability in a compact space.
5 One of the farms here with us today is I.F.F.I [pronounced as eye-fai], a recipient of the 30X30 Express grant. I.F.F.I is a new vertical farm that worked with local and overseas partners to innovate a real-time dashboard, integrating farming data for operational planning simulation and decision-making purposes. With this, I.F.F.I is able to achieve optimum growing conditions for vegetable crops such as baby spinach and red bak choy in terms of temperature, humidity, CO2, lighting intensity and irrigation. Automation of work processes is also made possible through the use of integrated machinery for seeding, transplanting, washing and packaging. These are just some of the ways in which our progressive farms are growing more with less.
SFA and FairPrice Partnership
6 While the Government can support our farms upstream, consumers also play a critical role in this food ecosystem. The commercial viability of our farms ultimately depends on strong local demand. Many farms work hard to gain mindshare and demand for their produce, for example, securing display space at supermarkets. Beyond knowing how to farm, our farmers need to master marketing and business development to secure sales channel and advance orders for their produce. There is also the need to manage logistics requirements, such as packaging, delivery frequency, for commercial viability.
7 To support our local farms, I am happy to share that the Singapore Food Agency (SFA) has partnered FairPrice on the SFA-FairPrice Retail Incubation Programme. This six-month pilot programme, which began in July this year, has supported four local farms to sell their Asian leafy greens and potted vegetables at nine FairPrice stores, including this store. The farms have been mentored and guided by FairPrice to fine-tune their products, pricing, and promotion mechanics.
8 Through this mentorship, participating farms learn about the retail strategies of a supermarket, and understand consumers’ demands and preferences. Such experiences are valuable for our farmers in enhancing their marketing efforts and partnering retailers in the future. SFA will support the industry in building demand for local produce as our local farmers grow.
Support from large industry players
9 FairPrice is providing holistic support to our local brands and farms. It is extending the Suppliers Support and Development Programme (SSDP) for another year as a commitment to develop local farms and food manufacturers. The programme helps ease the cashflows of business partners with initiatives such as shorter payment terms and discounts on product listing fees. Since 2009, FairPrice has invested $15 million, including an additional $2.1 million this year. The programme has benefited more than 500 SMEs including many of our local farms. I hope that with such support, more farms will be able to boost their business capabilities and grow.
10 We have taken significant strides towards our “30 by 30” goal thanks to the agri-food industry and partners like FairPrice. But there is still much more work to be done. I hope to see other retailers, restaurants and hotels coming forward to support our local farms. Only when our local farms thrive can they contribute meaningfully to food security.
11 I also encourage consumers to buy more local produce. When you shop for groceries, look out for the bright red 1- and 2-star SG Fresh Produce badges. The 1-star badge represents produce that has been grown locally, while the 2-star badge provides additional quality assurance that the farm’s produce were grown in an environmentally friendly and socially responsible manner. Your support for local produce will go a long way in strengthening Singapore’s food security.
12 Thank you, and I look forward to visiting the booths and meeting our various local producers. Let us continue to work together to bolster Singapore’s food security for current and future generations of Singaporeans.