Singapore to redefine farming sector, disburse 30% funding for adopting technology

People have been asked to share innovative ideas to optimise limited space and increase production yields.

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Singapore government is aiming to transform its farming sector to strengthen resilience in the food supply. The government has announced its plans to enhance the Farm Transformation Map that is likely to redefine the local farming sector in four areas—Physical space, innovation, people development and the broader ecosystem.

National development Minister Koh Poh Koon said, "There is a need to grow the ecosystem, increasing demand for local produce and helping farms seek to finance," as quoted by Channel News Asia. He also explained about the space constraints in the country and how the government is planning to leverage technology to overcome the space issues.

"Firstly, to overcome space constraints, we need to go upwards into the sky, downwards into the ocean and even inwards into our buildings. I have already spoken about Sky Greens and Apollo using vertical technology to grow more with less space. Even traditional farms like Kok Fah are using advanced greenhouses and irrigation systems to mitigate the effects of extreme weather changes on their crop growth," he said.

Koh also said that there will be changes made to the current S$63 million Agriculture Productivity Fund (APF) that co-funds investments in tech on a reimbursement basis. From April, the APF will disburse up to 30% of the approved funding quantum to facilitate the adoption of technology. "This will complement our move to increase the tenure of farm lands to 20-year leases, from the previous 10 plus 10, based on industry feedback," he explained.

The minister called for innovative ideas to optimise limited space and increase production yields. He also highlighted the need to "pursue water and energy efficiency" through robotics and sensors. Koh spoke about the need for a generation of "agri-specialists" with multi-disciplinary expertise. The further of farming will be a blend of engineering, info-comm technology, entrepreneurship, and R&D, he added.

Finally, he touched upon the need to grow its ecosystem by encouraging ancillary players, increasing demand for local produce and helping our farms to seek to finance.

This article was first published on March 9, 2017