Singapore set to offer land plots to encourage high-tech farming

Authorities say that these plots of agricultural land will be tendered out with longer 20-year leases.

Singapore set to offer land plots to encourage high-tech farming
A worker harvests vegetables at Sky Greens vertical farm in Singapore. Reuters

The Singapore Government is all set to tender out new plots of land for productive and high-tech farming. According to a blog post by Minister for National Development Lawrence Wong, the agricultural lands will be tendered out with longer leases of 20 years instead of 10 as announced by the Agri-Food and Veterinary Authority of Singapore (AVA) in June 2016.

"This follows from feedback we've received from farmers that they needed a longer period to recover the investments for new technologies," Wong wrote on his blog.

This latest move is in support of the government's efforts to push modernisation in the agriculture sector. The minister said given Singapore's limited space, the country will not be able to produce all the food it needs. However, he noted that new farming methods would allow for a boost in production levels.

"Not only will this provide us with more locally grown food, it will also help our farmers scale up their businesses," Wong explained.

He said Yili Farm's methods as an example of adopting innovations in farming. According to him, Yili farm is now using taller growing houses and semi-automated curtain systems for better ventilation and temperature control. The farm also installed curved plastic roofs to protect against the elements.

"Yili's vegetables are now growing better and harvesting losses have been reduced. Farmworker productivity has also increased as they can now work in the growing houses even during hot afternoons," Wong cited.

He also mentioned how the coastal fish farm Marine Life Aquaculture (MLA) leveraged on technology to track and transfer fingerlings. Previously, the fish farm takes about a week to manually transfer 100,000 fish fingerlings using plastic containers from their land-based nursery on Pulau Ketam to sea-cages 100 metres away.

The minister said modernising the agricultural scene is a must as the Singapore society becomes more urbanised. "This is why we have set aside new plots of farm land in Singapore for productive and high-tech farming," he added. AVA will be releasing more details on the farm land tenders soon.