"Let's have pride in Singapore-grown produce"

When it comes to food production, Singapore has a specific goal. While the country will continue to diversify its food import sources, it aims to ramp up local production so it can meet 30 percent of the country's nutritional needs by 2030. Achieving this level of self-sufficiency will help guard against global supply-chain shocks and crop yield fluctuations that may come as climate change persists.

Land constraints have led to a lack of "locally grown" products. Of Singapore's total of 720 km2, under 1% is used for conventional farming; the country imports some 90% of its food, said the Singapore Food Agency (SFA). No wonder, then, that the country's people are not exactly clamoring for locally-grown produce: there just may not be enough to go around. Farms in Lim Chu Kang and Sungei Tengah produced just 14 percent of leafy vegetables in 2019, said the SFA.

However, the country has made good progress to push up those numbers, with companies adopting a high-tech, "farms of the future" approach. Think sustainable vegetable farms that can produce crops with the help of technology such as AI systems that monitor the growth of leafy greens, and water-efficient, automated irrigation systems.

Financiers such as OCBC Bank are funding such solutions. For example, OCBC extended a green loan to home-grown business Netatech, which produces everyday vegetables like red bayam, cai xin and nai bai. Netatech employs automated processes with cloud-based controls, from seeding machines that can plant 40,000 seeds in an hour - a task that would take more than 10 hours by hand - to sustainable solutions like harvesting rainwater and managing stormwater runoff to meet demands for water on the farm. Some 70 percent of the farm's water use goes into irrigation for its crops.

Read the complete article at www.businesstimes.com.sg.

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