Despite small size, Singapore can play big role in food production: Khaw

Sara Grosse, Channel NewsAsia 6 Oct 16;

SINGAPORE: The Republic has the potential to be a “living lab” for new food production technologies, said Minister for Transport and Coordinating Minister for Infrastructure Khaw Boon Wan on Thursday (Oct 6).

At the meeting of ASEAN Ministers on Agriculture and Forestry held here, Mr Khaw shared Singapore's vision for its farms: "We envision our farms of the future to be high-tech, innovative, highly intensive and productive, able to do more, with less.

“As an urbanised state, Singapore promotes the development of urban farming solutions and progressive farming technologies."

A modern and technologically savvy farm sector, he added, is also key to attracting a new generation of agricultural professionals. These “agri-specialists” will write the next chapter in global and regional food security efforts, he said.

While acknowledging the small agricultural sector in Singapore, Mr Khaw emphasised that the city-state can contribute and play its part in food security.

He cited examples of how Singapore is actively looking at the use of technology and research and development (R&D) throughout the agricultural value chain. This include developing indoor vertical vegetable production systems for Asian leafy greens that are potentially five times more productive than conventional farming systems.

The Minister also cautioned that food security will become increasingly challenging in the face of climate change. "Thus, it is timely that we are implementing the ASEAN Multi-Sectoral Framework on Climate Change. Progress has been made in information exchange, cross-sectoral coordination, and stakeholder collaboration on climate change adaptation and mitigation projects," he said.

Other than food security issues, Mr Khaw also raised his concern on antimicrobial resistance (AMR) in agriculture, which threatens global public health and can significantly impact food security and safety. On its part, Singapore will coordinate ASEAN AMR efforts in agriculture and enhance AMR surveillance.

The ASEAN Ministers on Agriculture and Forestry is a platform for cooperation in food, agriculture and forestry. Leaders meet annually to provide guidance for regional cooperation.

The region is home to two of the world's largest rice exporters and is a major producer and exporter of seafood.

- CNA/xk