REMARKS BY SMS KOH POH KOON, SENIOR MINISTER OF STATE FOR SUSTAINABILITY AND THE ENVIRONMENT AT THE MADE IN SINGAPORE FAIR ON 26 OCTOBER 2023, 2.00 PM TO 3.15 PM AT FAIRPRICE XTRA VIVOCITY
Ms Elaine Heng, Deputy Group CEO, FairPrice Group
1 Good afternoon. It is my pleasure to join you at the twelfth annual Made in Singapore Fair.
2 As I was walking into the store, I was glad to see the attractive Made In Singapore Fair displays. It is heartening that our farmers are being recognised, and that more prominence is being placed on local produce. This makes it easier for consumers to recognise and choose local produce.
Singapore’s strategies for food security
3 Food supply chains have increasingly become more volatile, and prone to disruptions. We have seen this with the effects from the Russia-Ukraine war which resulted in global disruptions to food production and supply, culminating in rising food prices.
4 Closer to home, Singapore’s pork supplies were disrupted due to African Swine Fever incursion in Pulau Bulan pork early this year. We are also increasingly seeing the impacts of climate change on food production yields.
5 Countries do adapt to some of these challenges by imposing export bans. We are also seeing some of these being played out in different parts of the world and in different food types. This means that we all have to be better prepared for these disruptions that will come from time to time.
6 In a country like Singapore, where we rely heavily on imports, we cannot completely insulate ourselves from global food supply chain disruptions. To stay ahead of this issue, we adopt a multi-pronged approach. We diversify our import sources and invest in local production.
Supporting our farms as part of our 30 by 30 vision
7 Locally grown produce, such as vegetables, eggs and fish, contribute to our food security and help to lessen the impact of overseas food supply disruptions. Therefore, we aspire to build our agri-food industry’s capability and capacity to sustainably produce 30% of our nutritional needs by 2030 – this is our 30 by 30 vision.
8 This has always been a stretch goal for us, because we start from a very low base, but we know if we don’t aim for something, we will never get there. Every bit that brings us closer to our 30 by 30 vision will give that much more resilience and security for us.
9 In trying to actualise our vision, we also realise that our farms are facing many challenges along the way. Because of the COVID-19 pandemic, many of our farms who are in the midst of trying to scale up and develop their infrastructure have met with challenges, supply disruptions to their construction materials. This has led to many farms lagging behind operationalising their plans. Like other sectors, the farms also face manpower shortages, which have an impact on their plans to scale up production capacity.
10 More recently, increase in energy prices and rising interest rates have also increased the business costs of farms. Notwithstanding, the Government and industry continue to aspire towards our 30 by 30 vision. We are doing so in two ways.
11 First, we continue to help our farms build the capability and capacity to grow more. SFA has been providing co-funding to our farms which enables them to adopt new technologies to grow more, in a climate-resilient and resource efficient manner.
12 Take Green Harvest for instance. I attended the opening of the Green Harvest Farm two days ago, where they launched their new modern greenhouse. Green Harvest tapped on funding from SFA to upgrade its capability. They invested in a Mobile Gulley System which allows them to use less water than traditional farming methods as water can be recirculated within the system.
13 Now, within a space of just 2 hectares, the farm is projected to produce up to 1,500 tonnes of leafy vegetables per year. This is five times the average productivity of traditional farming methods.
14 Second, aside from funding, farms also need continued demand to scale. All of us, as individuals, also have an important role to play. Whenever we choose local produce, we not only get fresher, and greener food, but our choices go a long way in keeping our farms commercially viable, so that they can contribute to Singapore’s food security.
15 FairPrice Group has been a strong supporter in this front. I am heartened that FairPrice continues to offer a wide range of local produce, making it easier for consumers to support local produce. I hope to see more retailers and food establishments championing local produce by offering it in your premises or menus.
16 Let me conclude. Realising the 30 by 30 vision will be a challenging journey, but a necessary journey for a more resilient Singapore. All of us – from the Government, to individuals and corporates – can play a part to support our local farms by choosing local produce. The more we support our farms today, the larger the role they can play in food security in times of disruption. Look out for the red SG Fresh Produce logo, and support local, whenever you can.
17 I thank FairPrice Group once again for inviting me and I look forward to the tour later. Thank you.