New farm plots with 20-year leases set aside for high-tech farming

Today Online 9 May 17;

SINGAPORE — New plots of farm land with 20-year leases have been set aside to promote productive and high-tech farming, said National Development Minister Lawrence Wong on Tuesday (May 9).

Details of the farm land tenders will be released soon by the Agri-Food and Veterinary Authority of Singapore (AVA).

In a blogpost, Mr Wong said the lease extension from the current 10-year period is made following farmers’ feedback that they needed a longer period to recover investments for new technologies.

Even as Singapore’s economy evolves and society becomes more urbanised, he said a modern agriculture sector will continue to play a key role in Singapore’s future.

Besides diversifying Singapore’s food sources by setting up high-tech joint venture farms overseas, growing food locally is another way to enhance food security.

“Our farms are an important source of vegetables, eggs and fish. Local production provides a buffer against overseas food supply disruptions,” he added.

But given the limited space here, taking the high-tech route with new farming technologies is the way to go. Doing so will “significantly boost” the Republic’s food production levels, providing not only locally-grown food but also helping farmers scale up their businesses.

Hence, the assessment of proposals for the new farm plots will place greater emphasis on quality and productivity considerations, he said.

In the meantime, he added the Government will do more to help farmers adopt the new technologies.

Examples include homegrown vegetable farm Yili, which has reduced harvest loss and better yield by using taller growing houses and semi-automated curtain systems for better ventilation and temperature control.

Productivity of workers have also gone up as they can now continue to work even in hot weather as the growing houses are installed with curved plastic roofs to protect against outdoor elements.

Mr Wong said: “We hope both existing and new farmers will participate, and work with us on this journey to transform our farms.”

Govt will do more to help Singapore farmers adopt new technology: Lawrence Wong
Channel NewsAsia 9 May 17;

SINGAPORE: National Development Minister Lawrence Wong on Tuesday (May 9) encouraged local farmers to take up plots of agricultural land which will be set aside to promote high-tech farming, saying that the Government will do more to help farmers adopt new technology.

In a blog post, Mr Wong emphasised the need to adopt new technology that will allow Singapore to “significantly boost our production levels” and farms to “scale up their businesses”.

He was referring to the plots of land that will be tendered out with longer 20-year leases instead of the previously mooted 10-year blocks, as announced by the Agri-Food and Veterinary Authority of Singapore (AVA) in June 2016.

Mr Wong noted that the change in policy followed feedback from farmers that they needed a longer period to recover the investments for new technologies.

In the blog post, he cited various examples of farms that have boosted production by embracing technology.


He noted how local coastal fish farm, Marine Life Aquaculture, invested in a live fish pump to help transfer its 100,000 fish fingerlings from its land-based nurseries on Pulau Ketam to cages at sea 100 metres away.

Previously, farm workers would transfer the fish in plastic containers, a process that took over a week.

The same task can now be accomplished in a day, noted Mr Wong, adding that the fish farm is also able to track and count the number of fingerlings automatically during the process as the pump had a scanner with imaging technology.

“A modern agriculture sector will continue to play a key role in Singapore’s future, even as our economy evolves and our society becomes more urbanised,” Mr Wong said.

He added that AVA will release more details on the farm land tenders soon.

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Vietnam: Sand becoming depleted because of illegal exploitation, export

VietNamNet Bridge 9 May 17;

Vietnam’s sand resources are expected to be exhausted after 15 years. However, people are still wasting sand, and enterprises continue exporting sand.

According to the Ministry of Construction’s (MOC) Building Material Department, the sand amount to be exploited can satisfy only 60-65 percent of demand in large cities.

As more and more infrastructure projects are implemented, the demand for sand has increased dramatically.

Reports showed that total sand natural resources are estimated at 2.3 billion cubic meters.

As more and more infrastructure projects are implemented, the demand for sand has increased dramatically.
In 2015, Vietnam needed 92 million cubic meters of sand, while the figure is expected to increase to 130 million cubic meters.

With the current construction pace, the sand supply sources will get exhausted after 15 years.

MONRE has also warned that if the sand use cannot be programmed well and if alternative materials cannot be found, Vietnam will not have more sand for the construction industry in the future.

At many construction works, such as Son La and Lai Chau hydropower projects, artificial sand, created by grinding stones, is used instead.

Local newspapers in recent days have repeatedly reported about the illegal sand exploitation in many cities and provinces throughout the country. The images of large pipes from pumps thrust deeply into the riverbed to absorb sand can be seen regularly in newspapers.

Hanoi Police have discovered and seized 13 illegal sand exploitation vessels in the Red River’s border area between Hanoi and Phu Tho Province.

In the southern provinces of Dong Nai, illegal sand exploitation has become hotter than ever, with many beautiful rivers becoming huge sand mining fields.

In the central region, while the government is spending billions of VND on projects to deal with worsening erosion at Cua Dai Beach in Hoi An Town, several companies took advantage of the projects to illegally exploit sand.

Tuoi Tre newspaper reported that more than 10 enterprises exported salty sand under the licenses granted by MOC since 2016.

The river dredging projects are allowed to sell all the sand they exploit to cover expenses and make a profit.

Most of the projects of this kind are in central waterways. The projects export sand to Singapore at $1 per cubic meter on average.

Most recently, on May 1, the Can Tho City Police discovered and seized nine sand laden freighters, each of which was carrying 1,000 cubic meters. The owners of the freighters could not show documents to prove the legitimate origin of the sand.

In Bac Ninh province, the situation is so serious that the province’s chai Nguyen Tu Quynh has asked the Prime Minister to instruct the Ministry of Public Security to start an investigation about the Cau River dredging project.

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