While some cheer the cool weather when storms hit Singapore, 40-year-old farmer Chai Nian Kun says to himself: “Jialat” – an expression of concern over what is to come.
Heavy rain is not uncommon in tropical Singapore. But days of continuous downpours can wreak havoc on many of his organic vegetables, which grow outdoors on a three-hectare plot in Lim Chu Kang.
Too much rain can inundate the greens or encourage the growth of pests that feed on them. Last month, short but heavy thundery showers across several days did just that to his crops.
Even though it is the monsoon season, Mr Chai said it has been raining “much more than it should”, an assessment he has made about the past few years as well.
Not only has rain been beating down harder, but it has been getting warmer too, he said. “If you compare this to many years ago, the seasonal effects were clearer. But now (the) climate change effect has turned everything upside down.”
Climate change – expressed here through hotter temperatures, more rainfall and rising sea levels – is putting local food production under stress in many different ways, experts said.
It is a pressing concern, they added, especially in light of the island’s ambitions to strengthen its food security.
Singapore is aiming to produce 30 per cent of its nutritional needs by 2030, up from the less than 10 per cent it currently produces.