TL;DR – They have “farm to table”, and we have “HDB rooftop to table”!
Almost every Singaporean knows that we’re a teeny tiny nation with no natural resources.
Heck, like I always say, we don’t even have water. And we’re so tiny it doesn’t quite make sense to make us an agriculture-based country. So over the past decades of growth, we’ve adopted the industrialisation route, pursuing industries with high value- add and more sophisticated products. Yea, stuff that require more automation and a more skilled or educated workforce.
The result of our success? Well, Singapore is now amongst the richest per capita country in the world. And we buy / import nearly everything we need, including food.
The Singapore Food Story so far…
Did you know that less than 1% of land on our island of 5.7 million population is used for the production of agricultural food? Yeps, most Singaporean adult would be able to tell you that Singapore imports more than 90% of our food supplies.
Sure, local farms exist. But not many, and they collectively only account for 10% of our food sources. “Farm to table” is a concept that is quite alien to us. Ours is more like “farm to airport to table” like these eggs from Thailand!
But there have been changes though, as more and more people pursue higher quality of life and pay more attention to what they’re eating. Many are looking to buy and consume healthier or even organic food.
Other than for health reasons, some do it to reduce the food miles as part of the green movement. You see, the more we can source at home, the less we need to import, and hence the less food miles and carbon footprint.
Surprise! Some hotels in Singapore have their own urban farms!
Interestingly, some hotels in Singapore already have their own “farms”, usually in the form of rooftop farms growing mainly herbs and vegetables.
These hotels cite many benefits of sourcing from their own urban farms, including food freshness, reducing food wastage and also reducing carbon footprint.
And the COVID-19 pandemic also drove home yet another advantage of having one’s own food sources: Increased self-sufficiency as we will become less impacted by a lack or delay in produce supply.
Curious what the hotels are growing? Let’s have a quick look.
At Grand Hyatt Singapore, 30 per cent of all the herbs the hotel uses come from its rooftop garden.
Even better and greener yet, the garden is maintained with the hotel’s in-house food-waste management plant. The plant is capable of converting 1,000kg of the hotel’s food waste daily into 500kg of pathogen-free fertiliser within 24 hours. Talk about self-sufficiency!
They now boast of over 20 herbs, including rosemary, thyme, oregano and Mexican tarragon. These herbs are used across its restaurants and bars. Yes, in the cocktails in the bars, woohoo!
Over at One Farrer Hotel, they too have a rooftop farm.
Like Grand Hyatt, this farm also has a self-contained system of sorts where they repurpose “ingredients” like crushed egg shells, used coffee grounds and spoilt uncooked vegetables as compost for the crops grown at the farm. Yeps, the point is to make effective use of what is usually discarded as food waste.
About 20 per cent of the produce used for the hotel comes from its five-year-old farm.
The Singapore Food Story: Bring farming closer to Singaporeans
The Singapore Food Agency (SFA) has launched nine sites at the rooftops of HDB multi-storey carparks (MSCP) for rental by public tender today (Tuesday).
The sites shall be used to farm vegetables and other food crops, as well as for other related purposes, such as the packing or storage of produce. Each successful tender will be for a term of three years. Tenderers must submit their proposals via GeBIZ before the tender closes on 9 June 2020, 4 pm.
This will help us to make use of alternative spaces in land-constrained Singapore, and bring farming closer to the community.
In a way, 2020 marks the beginning of the Singapore Food Story. I’m so looking forward to being able to enjoy lush views of locally-grown veggies from our HDB flats!
According to the SFA, this is one of Singapore’s strategies to achieve our “30 by 30” goal.
There are plans to tender out even more MSCP rooftops for urban farming in the second half of 2020.
Here are the sites put up for tender today.
In case you’re curious about the tender method and criteria, these new rooftop spaces will be tendered using the Price-Quality Tender Method.
Singapore Food Agency’s 30×30 goal
Diversification of supply sources for the food that Singaporeans need has always been one of the important things that the authorities have been working on.
Just like how we cannot be held ransom by Malaysia through the supply of water, we too should be careful not to be over-reliant on any one or few food supply sources.
Diversification includes producing our own, owning food supplies both here and overseas, having varied sources from different suppliers in different countries for the main food categories, and even exploring different forms that food can come in, for instance fresh meat versus frozen meat, fresh eggs versus powered eggs.
One of our diversification plans includes SFA’s 30% goal for home-grown food. Yes, SFA has a goal to produce 30% our nutritional needs by 2030, or in short 30×30 (or 30 by 30).
What about 30×30 Express?
Well, the COVID-19 crisis has impressed upon us that food supply disruptions are a real risk.
Not that we didn’t know it before, but the urgency is truly, deeply felt during a time like this. With other countries closing their borders and some even practising food protectionism. Yes, that threatens our food security.
This is why SFA has decided to bring forward our local food production – yes, 30×30 Express – to double our current food production in 2 years.
Not sure if you remember, but a $30 million “30×30 Express” grant was launched last month to support the agri-food industry to ramp up local production of eggs, leafy vegetables, and fish in the shortest possible time.
The grant will speed up our move to meet our 30×30 goal.
Minister Masagos will chair the new 30×30 Express inter-agency Taskforce
Minister for the Environment and Water Resources (MEWR) Masagos Zulkifli will be chairing the new 30×30 Express inter-agency Taskforce.
The Taskforce is to oversee efforts to increase local food production, address hurdles related to the setting up or expansion of farms, and ensure that farms are productive, sustainable and resilient.
They will be helping local farms increase their production capacity and output, supporting them to enhance their resource efficiency and sustainability. All these contribute to strengthening our food security through local produce.
In time, the Taskforce will also be calling for consumer support produce. When the time comes, let’s all do our part for our Singapore Food Story.
Can’t wait for the day we can see the new local produce logo when we go grocery shopping in supermarkets!
(Featured image via FB)