Singapore still lags in global urban farming push

Walter Sim Straits Times 24 Feb 18;

Even as the trend of urban farming has taken root in major city centres around the world, Singapore has lagged behind in this global push.

Paris, for example, has gone big on urban farming with Mayor Anne Hidalgo setting ambitious targets last September for over 1 million sq m of rooftop gardens and planted walls by 2020 - of which a third is to be dedicated to agriculture.

The first tranche of projects will involve 32 sites across the French capital, including a 900 sq m space on the rooftop of the French Post Office building. This is expected to yield 425 tonnes of fruit and vegetables. As well, 8,000 litres of beer and 95kg of honey are expected to be produced.

But in the Garden City that is Singapore, where vertical greenery is increasingly commonplace, the authorities have acknowledged that city-based agricultural practices are still nascent.

Last November, Singapore's Agri-Food and Veterinary Authority said: "While there is growing interest from companies to develop edible rooftop gardens as part of their corporate social responsibility efforts, the concept of rooftop farming in Singapore is still new and limited to small-scale community-based farming."

Urban farming typically utilises high-tech systems that tap much less water, power and space than that required on traditional farms, and has been touted as an environmentally sustainable boost to food security in congested cities.

Singapore's Urban Redevelopment Authority is making a bigger push for commercial urban farms, which are large-scale, high-productivity and high-intensity, to boost food security. Some commercial city farms include Comcrop's 600 sq m space at *Scape in Somerset, and a rooftop farm at CapitaLand's Raffles City, with the Spa Esprit Group using the produce to make beauty products. Community farms include one atop a tower at Khoo Teck Puat Hospital, and students at Singapore Management University's upcoming Prinsep Street Residences will also be able to grow their own produce.

Walter Sim