Local Produce and Imported Produce: What We Need to Know
When it comes to local and imported produce, there are many factors that impact the availability of each, such as climate and the availability of land.
As Singapore lies one degree north of the equator, we only have one season all year round. And being a highly-populated and land-scarce urban city with a population of 5.7 million and only 724 sq km of land, less than 1% of our land is available for farming. So, it is not surprising that there is a limit to the quantity and variety of produce we are able to farm in Singapore. This is why we are currently producing less than 10% of the food we eat, and more than 90% is imported from around the world.
Given that we import over 90% of our food, Singapore is very vulnerable to volatilities in the global food market and disruptions in our food supplies. This vulnerability will only become more acute in time, as global crop yields are estimated to decline by up to 25% by 2050 due to the impacts of climate change. These include environmental changes such as rising temperatures and extreme weather conditions such as floods or droughts.
In order to be prepared for the impacts of climate change, which are becoming more apparent globally at an alarming rate, Singapore needs to have a realistic and sustainable food security model.
Let’s take a look at what’s being done to ensure our food supply resilience, and how important local and imported produce are to our food security.
Singapore’s Food Security
Because of our limited natural resources, it is understandable that we cannot be 100% self-sufficient, and we need to import the types of produce that we are not able to farm here. However, we can reduce our reliance on imports by producing more of what we can farm.
Food security is high on our nation’s agenda. Initiatives like Singapore’s Food Security Roadmap and 2020: Singapore Food Story are steering Singapore towards ensuring a more resilient supply of food for us, from local as well as import sources.
While both local and imported produce are important to Singapore’s food security, we are aiming to produce 30% of our nutritional needs by 2030 to reduce our reliance on imports. In fact, to strengthen our food security, Singapore Food Agency (SFA) is pursuing 3 broad strategies called the 3 Food Baskets:
- Grow more locally to provide a bigger buffer against overseas supply disruptions
- Grow overseas to help local companies expand abroad and export food back when necessary
- Diversify import sources to reduce the risk of reliance on any single food supply source
There are 220 farms in Singapore, comprising 121 fish farms, 77 leafy vegetable farms, 6 beansprout farms, 5 chicken / quail egg farms, and 11 farms that produce other types of food. Collectively, our food farms produce 10% of our fish consumption (4,700 tonnes), 26% of our egg consumption (528 million pieces), and 14% of our leafy vegetable consumption (12,700 tonnes).
At the same time, Singapore imports over 93,611 tonnes of fish, 1.5 million hen eggs and 452,980 tonnes of vegetables every year!
With the support of the Singapore government, more and more of our farms are embracing technology to ramp up production of local produce and boost our food security.
Why We Should Support Local
While we can’t do away with imports, we can certainly do more to make a conscious decision to choose local over imported produce when a choice is available, so as to support our local farmers and enable them to produce more. Because much as we would like our farms to increase the supply of local produce to boost our food security, the economics won’t make sense unless consumer demand also increases in tandem. So, when given a choice between local and imported produce, choose local whenever possible, to reduce our reliance on imports and support our “30 by 30” goal, which is a vital part of Singapore’s food security.
When buying food from the supermarket or another retailer, our purchasing decisions may be based on a number of different factors as we weigh the pros and cons of local and imported produce. It may be easy to look past the country of origin in favour of price. However, what we choose to buy has far-reaching impacts. Apart from directly affecting Singapore’s food supply resilience, our purchasing decisions also affect the freshness, safety and nutritional content of the food we eat, as well as our environment and economy.
As supporting local produce is important in ensuring food supply resilience for Singapore, when shopping for fresh produce, be sure to look for the country of origin and make Singapore-farmed produce our Number 1 choice.
Freshness, Nutrient Density and Food Safety
Compared with imported produce, local produce take a shorter time to get from the farms to the stores and to our plates. As fresh produce start losing nutrients as soon as they are harvested, this means local produce are fresher and retain more nutrients. And when food is eaten at the peak of freshness, it tastes better too!
We can also be assured that local produce are safe to eat. Singapore Food Agency (SFA) has stringent farming regulations. For example, our farms are only allowed to use agricultural pesticides that are registered with SFA.
For extra quality assurance, look for locally-farmed eggs, vegetables and fish that are from farms which are certified and accredited under these quality assurance schemes:
- Singapore Quality Egg Scheme (SQES)
- Good Agricultural Practice for Vegetable Farming (GAP-VF) Scheme
- Good Aquaculture Practice for Fish Farming (GAP-FF) Scheme
Eating local produce reduces our impact on the environment as the distance our food travels to get to us affect the amount of transport-related greenhouse gas emissions that our food produces.
Transport has a direct impact on the climate, and produce that are transported by air leave a particularly high carbon footprint. Making the shift to locally-farmed produce can have a positive impact on the environment if enough people commit to making a change. So, let’s consider whether or not we truly need those produce that are imported by air, or whether we can buy local instead.
Another reason to buy local is because local produce are fresher, therefore they remain edible for a longer period of time. This results in less food waste.
A food system that is truly sustainable is one that supports local farmers, while conserving natural resources for future generations. To optimise resources and conserve land use, an increasing number of farms in Singapore is using agriculture technology and alternative farming methods like vertical, indoor and even rooftop farming.
So, choosing to buy local produce over imported produce whenever possible can help to reduce wastage and ensure that the limited land in Singapore is used efficiently and productively.
Choosing to buy produce from Singapore’s agro-food industry also supports our local farmers, enables them to produce more and sell more, and ensures that the money we spend goes back to Singapore’s economy for more robust growth.
Make an Informed Decision With Local and Imported Produce
In line with Singapore’s move towards a more food-resilient future, buying fresh produce that has been farmed in Singapore is not only great for our health, but also for our environment, economy and the future of our country.
Besides the nutritional, environmental and economic benefits, buying locally-farmed produce supports the farmers in Singapore, who are working hard to ensure we have safe food to eat and Singapore has a resilient food supply.
So, choose Singapore-farmed produce whenever possible! Support our farmers, our economy, and our food security. Buy locally-farmed produce at e-SG Farmers’ Market anytime, and have fresh local produce delivered right to your doorstep!
Top Health Benefits of 5 Types of Singapore-Farmed Fish
Fish are not only a joy to eat, but are also a simple and efficient way to provide our bodies with a number of important health benefits. Perfect for those looking for a delicious and nutrient-rich food source, fish provide us with a vast range of micro and macro-nutrients that our bodies need to function optimally.
Fish are among the healthiest foods on the planet. They are loaded with important nutrients, such as protein and Vitamin D. They are also a great source of Omega 3 fatty acids, which are crucial for optimal body and brain function, and strongly linked to a reduced risk of many diseases, such as heart attacks and strokes. To meet our Omega 3 requirements, eating fatty fish at least once or twice a week is recommended.
Apart from making fish a key part of our diet, we should also make the switch to buying locally-farmed fish. Recent developments in farming technology have made it possible for our closed containment fish farms to farm fish in contamination-free environments. The stringent food safety standards imposed by Singapore Food Agency also ensure that Singapore-farmed fish are safe to eat.
Our local fish farms produce a good variety of fish. Let’s take a look at some of the top health benefits of five types of Singapore-farmed fish.
1. Australian Jade Perch
Yes, Australian Jade Perch is farmed in Singapore! Australian Jade Perch contains high natural levels of Omega 3 fatty acids, making it an ideal fish to get your essential fats from, and is a fantastic alternative to other Omega 3-rich fish like mackerel and salmon. Omega 3 fatty acids have been known to lower blood pressure, prevent the development of plaque in our arteries, and reduce the likelihood of strokes and heart disease. In other words, they’re vital for keeping our heart healthy!
Australian Jade Perch’s meat texture is smooth and delicate, making it suitable for steaming and baking. You can use it in delicious recipes such as this Fermented Bean Jade Perch or Oven Baked Jade Perch with Roasted Vegetables.
Well-known American doctor Dr Mehmet Oz has declared Barramundi as “one of the top 5 superfoods”. Not only is Barramundi low in fat, rich in Omega 3 fatty acids, and high in protein, it is also a good source of essential vitamins and minerals that support our immune, cardiovascular and nervous systems.
Barramundi is a nutritious, versatile and extremely yummy fish. The white meat is light, flaky and delicious, and works well in a variety of dishes, such as this Chinese Salt & Pepper Barramundi Fish and Barramundi Fillets with Homemade Soy Ginger Sauce.
3. Grey Mullet
An oil-rich fish that is high in Omega 3 fatty acids, Grey Mullet is also an important source of Vitamin B6, niacin and selenium. The benefits of these nutrients include promoting brain health, reducing the risk of heart disease, and boosting our immune systems, among others.
Grey Mullet has a rich, distinctive flavour, and succulent grey meat with a medium to firm texture that flakes easily after cooking. It can be prepared in many ways, including steaming, grilling and pan-frying, and is fantastic in recipes like this Crispy Fish Served with Vermicelli in Sweet and Tangy Stew.
4. Red Snapper
Red Snapper is a fantastic source of Vitamins D and E, as well as minerals like calcium, magnesium and selenium, which are important for our teeth and bone development, immune system function, muscle movement, and nervous system regulation. In addition, it also provides other health benefits like promoting good eye health, and protecting us from osteoporosis and heart disease with its high content of Vitamin A, potassium and Omega 3 fatty acids.
Popular with fish lovers, Red Snapper has red skin with pinkish-tinge meat, a firm texture, and a mildly sweet flavour. It can be grilled, baked or pan-fried, and works perfectly in dishes like this Chinese-Style Snapper.
5. Red Tilapia
Red Tilapia has become a vital food source and a seafood staple in several countries. An affordable and excellent source of nutrients, it’s loaded with Omega 3 and 6 fatty acids, protein, calcium and selenium, which are good for promoting heart health, controlling cholesterol, as well as building strong bones, muscles and immune systems.
Delightfully mild in flavour, Red Tilapia has a medium-firm texture which makes it most suitable for steaming, baking and grilling. It can be used in a wide range of recipes, such as this Sweet and Sour Super Red Tilapia dish.
Good Reasons to Choose Locally-Farmed Fish
Besides supporting our local economy, there are many reasons why making the personal decision to choose fresh locally-farmed fish over imported fish is an excellent one. Shorter distances from local fish farms to retail outlets lead to quicker delivery times. This means that local fish will be fresher and have a longer shelf life when they get to you. They will also retain more nutrients, meaning you will enjoy more of the health benefits fresh locally-farmed fish have to offer.
Buying local is also better for the environment, as transporting goods locally leaves a smaller carbon footprint than long-distance imports. As local farms are licensed by Singapore Food Agency, buying local also means eating safe, traceable and quality ingredients.
So, choose Singapore-farmed fish the next time you go shopping. Support our fish farmers, our economy, and our food security. Buy these locally-farmed fish and more at e-SG Farmers’ Market today!
[Disclaimer: The local farms and produce on e-SG Farmers’ Market, which are mentioned in this article, are correct as at 30 September 2020 and are subject to change. Stocks are subject to availability. In the event that any of the produce is sold out, we encourage you to visit e-SG Farmers’ Market again shortly, as our farmers endeavour to re-stock as quickly as they possibly can.]
Top Health Benefits of 5 Different Types of Singapore-Farmed Eggs
Eggs are delicious, versatile and packed full of the nutrients that our bodies need to function optimally. Because of this, these yummy little powerhouses are a fantastic addition to our diet, giving our bodies the energy, vitamins and minerals we need to progress through our busy days.
As well as fuelling our bodies, eating eggs provides us with many other health benefits. Considered one of the most nutritious foods on the planet, a single large boiled egg contains:
- Vitamin A: 6% of the Recommended Daily Intake (RDA)
- Folate: 5% of the RDA
- Vitamin B5: 7% of the RDA
- Vitamin B12: 9% of the RDA
- Vitamin B2: 15% of the RDA
- Phosphorus: 9% of the RDA
- Selenium: 22% of the RDA
- Decent amounts of Vitamins D, E, K, B6, calcium and zinc
If the above doesn’t convince you that eggs are “superfoods”, here are more facts: A single egg has 77 calories, 6 grams of protein and 5 grams of healthy fats, making it a great addition to most diets.
Although eggs are high in cholesterol, eating eggs doesn’t adversely affect the blood cholesterol in most people. In fact, it is a good way to increase high-density lipoprotein (HDL) – the good cholesterol which lowers the risk of many diseases. The effects of eggs on cholesterol levels vary between individuals, however, the science shows that eating up to three whole eggs (including the yolks) per day is perfectly safe for healthy people.
Our local farms produce a good variety of eggs – ranging from fresh eggs to nutrient-enriched eggs and even “designer eggs”. Let’s dive more into the health benefits of some of our very own Singapore-farmed eggs!
Considered “designer eggs”, Carrot Eggs come from hens fed with alfalfa or marigold petals, which then produce egg yolks that have a high lutein content. Lutein (a carotenoid) is a powerful antioxidant which defends our bodies against free radicals. In excess, free radicals can damage our eyes, cells, contribute to ageing, and lead to the progression of diseases like heart disease, cancer, Type 2 diabetes and Alzheimer’s. So, eating carrot eggs with their high lutein content is great for our health!
Corn Eggs are produced by hens that have been fed a hearty and wholesome diet of premium quality corn. Healthy hens lay healthy eggs, and as a result of these healthy natural ingredients in the feed, the corn eggs produced by these hens are superior in nutrients compared to normal eggs. Rich in protein and low in calories, they are the perfect addition to our diet!
Corn eggs are produced by all the three chicken egg farms in Singapore.
Pasteurized Eggs are just as nutritious as regular eggs, but with the added benefits of pasteurization. The process of pasteurization heats the egg to the point where any dangerous bacteria is killed, without actually cooking the egg itself. This protects us from catching foodborne illnesses such as salmonellosis, which is caused by the Salmonella bacteria. Pasteurization also kills the harmful Bird Flu virus that may be present in or on the eggs. Pasteurized eggs are therefore especially beneficial for children, pregnant ladies, seniors, those with lower immunity, as well as those who love runny eggs that are not thoroughly cooked.
N&N Agriculture is the first and only pasteurized egg producer in Singapore. It has been producing its Egg Story brand of pasteurized eggs since 2013, and no chemicals or radiation is used in its pasteurization process.
Eggs With Omega 3
Omega 3-enriched eggs are eggs that are produced by chickens whose feed is supplemented with an Omega 3 source like flax seeds. A study which compared the fatty acid composition of different types of eggs showed that Omega 3-enriched eggs had five times as much Omega 3 as conventional eggs.
As our body cannot produce Omega 3 and many people don’t eat enough it, eating eggs which contain or are enriched with Omega 3 is a fantastic way to add it to our diet. This is important as Omega 3 is an essential fat which is needed for the proper functioning of our bodies. Among other benefits, it helps to improve heart health, support infant brain development, prevent dementia, promote bone health, and fight inflammation that can contribute to a number of chronic diseases.
Omega 3 eggs are produced by all the three chicken egg farms in Singapore.
Eggs With Vitamin E
Studies have recognised a direct link between feed and the vitamin content of eggs. The Vitamin E in eggs is increased when the diet of laying hens is fortified with it.
Vitamin E is an antioxidant that helps to protect our cells from damage and slows their ageing process, keeping our bodies healthier for longer. Vitamin E even helps to repair damaged cells, meaning it’s especially beneficial for those with higher lifestyle or environmental risk factors (such as smokers, and those with high exposure to air pollution and ultraviolet rays from the sun). This makes eggs which contain or are enriched with Vitamin E a great inclusion in our diet, as they help protect our bodies from free radicals, which can contribute to heart disease and cancer.
Vitamin E eggs are produced by Chew’s and N&N Agriculture in Singapore.
Good Reasons to Choose Local Produce
When it comes to our grocery shopping, there are so many reasons why purchasing local produce is a great idea. Shorter distances and delivery times from local farms to retail outlets mean that local produce such as farm-fresh eggs are fresher, retain more nutrients, have a longer shelf life and leave a smaller carbon footprint. It’s good for both our bodies and the planet! As our farms are licensed by Singapore Food Agency, buying local also means that you’re purchasing safe, traceable and quality produce.
So, choose Singapore-farmed produce for optimal health benefits, and support our farmers, our economy, and our food security. Buy these locally-farmed eggs and more at e-SG Farmers’ Market today, and try out these delicious egg recipes:
[Disclaimer: The local farms and produce on e-SG Farmers’ Market, which are mentioned in this article, are correct as at 31 August 2020 and are subject to change. Stocks are subject to availability. In the event that any of the produce is sold out, we encourage you to visit e-SG Farmers’ Market again shortly, as our farmers endeavour to re-stock as quickly as they possibly can.]
Top Health Benefits of 10 Singapore-Farmed Vegetables
Vegetables are not just good inclusions to our diet – they are vital to our well-being! With the busy lives we lead, it’s imperative that our bodies get the necessary vitamins and minerals that are needed to enable us to function properly, and thankfully, vegetables provide many of these nutrients.
As well as being naturally low in fat and calories and containing no cholesterol, vegetables are important sources of many nutrients, including potassium, dietary fibre, folate, Vitamins A, C and more.
A diet rich in vegetables is beneficial to our health. It can help to lower blood pressure, reduce the risk of heart disease and stroke, prevent some types of cancer, lower the risk of eye and digestive problems, and have a positive effect on blood sugar, which can help us keep our appetites in check and maintain a healthy weight.
A good variety of vegetables is farmed in Singapore. Buying Singapore-farmed produce is not only good for our country’s food security but also good for us! With this in mind, let’s take a look at some of the amazing health benefits of vegetables grown right here in Singapore for our eating pleasure.
Basil is known as the ‘king of herbs’ for its sweet, strong and spicy flavour, making it the perfect addition to a vast array of dishes. This mighty herb is a great source of Vitamin K, which is important for growth and the development of healthy bones.
The most common variety of basil is Sweet Basil which has large, green, oval-shaped leaves. Fragrant and tasty, it is great for sprinkling on pizzas. Other varieties can be of varying leaf sizes, and have unique flavour profiles. For example, Thai Basil has a spicy flavour and is a perfect complement for spicy dishes such as Tom Yam, while Genovese Basil is particularly popular for making pesto.
2. Bean Sprouts
Bean Sprouts are sweet and juicy shoots that add a bit of crunch to a dish. They are packed full of Vitamin C, which promotes healthy teeth and gums, helps the body absorb iron, as well as encourages wounds to heal quickly. It also contains Vitamin K, which is vital for growth and the development of healthy bones.
Fresh bean sprouts are translucent to white in colour, juicy and crunchy to the bite. Choose bean sprouts as a delicious topper for a variety of stir fries and broths.
3. Cai Xin
Cai Xin or Chye Sim, is a Chinese flowering cabbage known for its earthy taste.
This vegetable is recognised for its nutritional benefits, specifically potassium – an essential dietary mineral which is important for nerve and muscle function. The fibre it contains keeps our digestive systems healthy and helps to prevent bloating and constipation, while the Vitamins A and C contained within do wonders for supporting our immune systems.
Perfect when paired with garlic and oyster sauce, this hearty green is a delicious accompaniment for many meat dishes.
Considered to be a superhero when it comes to health-promoting vegetables, Kale is a thick, leafy vegetable that can range from rich to herbaceous in flavour, and is a good choice for salads. There are several varieties of kale including Curly Kale and Tuscan Kale, all of which differ slightly in appearance, texture and taste.
Packed with minerals and Vitamins A, B6, C and K, kale brings with it a plethora of health benefits for our bodies. Apart from supporting nerve, muscle and brain function, it also helps our bodies form red blood cells, and promotes healthy bones, skin, teeth, gums and immune systems.
5. Kang Kong
Kang Kong has a very pleasant, mild, sweet flavour with delicious nutty undertones. Popular in Asian cooking, it is commonly stir fried with garlic and chillis, or Sambal Belachan (a hot and spicy condiment made primarily with a blend of chillis, shrimp paste and lime juice).
Kang Kong is an excellent source of potassium, Vitamin A and iron, which support our body’s nerve and muscle function, and red blood cell production. It is also crucial for maintaining healthy skin and vision, and keeping our immune systems strong to help fight off viruses.
6. Lady’s Fingers
Also known as Okra, Lady’s Fingers have a mild flavour and are popularly used in stir fries, soups and stews.
Lady’s Fingers are full of minerals and Vitamins C and K, which help our bodies to maintain healthy skin, nerves, teeth, gums and bones, as well as a healthy heart rhythm. They’re also full of fibre which aids digestion.
One of the most common (and most loved) vegetables in the world, Lettuce comes in a wide range of tastes and textures – varying from subtle to intense, and from soft to crunchy. Often eaten raw, it is popular in salads, sandwiches and wraps.
Lettuce provides us with a myriad of health benefits including supporting red blood cell production, and promoting healthy skin, nerves, teeth, gums as well as digestive and immune systems to protect us against infections and diseases.
8. Pea Sprouts
Also known as Dou Miao, Pea Sprouts – the sprouted seeds of the pea plant – are nutritional powerhouses. Rich in protein, folate, magnesium, phosphorus, manganese, and Vitamins C and K, this array of nutrients helps to improve our digestion, blood sugar levels, and heart health.
Pea sprouts are delicious when stir fried with oyster sauce.
Spinach, also known as Bayam, is a soft and tender leafy vegetable with a mild and delicate flavour. Versatile and used in both Western and Asian cuisines, it can be eaten raw or cooked, and is perfect for soups, stir fries and using as a base for salads.
Spinach provides a host of health benefits for our bodies. These benefits include helping our bodies to form red blood cells, our nerves and muscles to function properly, and our eyes, bones, digestive and immune systems to stay healthy.
10. Xiao Bai Cai
Xiao Bai Cai – a member of the brassica (cabbage) family – is a delicious crunchy addition to stir fries and soups, and a local favourite when stir fried with oyster sauce and garlic.
Xiao Bai Cai is another health-promoting vegetable. It’s a good source of folate and Vitamins B6, C and K, and is fantastic when it comes to maintaining brain function, promoting healthy teeth, gums and bones, and supporting a healthy functioning immune system. The vitamins and minerals within Xiao Bai Cai are also good for red blood cell production, which helps our bodies transport oxygen to our tissues.
Choose Locally-Farmed Vegetables for Optimal Benefits
Buying fresh produce that are farmed in Singapore is a practice that benefits our health, environment and other aspects of our lives. Shorter distances and delivery times from local farms to retail outlets mean that local produce are usually fresher, retain more nutrients, have a longer shelf life, and leave a lower carbon footprint on the environment. As our farms are licensed by the Singapore Food Agency which imposes strict standards on food safety, buying local also means eating safe, traceable, quality vegetables.
So, choose Singapore-farmed produce today for optimal health benefits, and support our farmers, our economy, and our food security at the same time. Shop for these fresh locally-grown vegetables and more at e-SG Farmers’ Market today!
[Disclaimer: The local farms and produce on e-SG Farmers’ Market, which are mentioned in this article, are correct as at 17 August 2020 and are subject to change. Stocks are subject to availability. In the event that any of the produce is sold out, we encourage you to visit e-SG Farmers’ Market again shortly, as our farmers endeavour to re-stock as quickly as they possibly can.]
How Will COVID-19 Impact Singapore’s Food Security?
COVID-19 has had a devastating impact on families around the world, as well as the world’s economies, healthcare systems, and food security.
As life transitions to a new normal, many people can’t help but notice there have been significant changes to our daily lives. It could be as obvious as riding on a much less crowded form of public transport, or finding that what you need in the store is no longer available. Over the last few months, we have witnessed how the uncertainty and fear of the situation triggered ‘short-term’ effects on human behaviours, resulting in panic buying and the hoarding of food and household necessities.
This brings us to the longer-term effect of the pandemic itself – the ability to access food, or specific types of food. With much of the world relying on food trade with other countries, the closing of borders and ceasing of trade have been truly detrimental for countries and businesses that rely on these imports and exports. Farmers, retailers, and traders have seen either a complete stop in business or have had to drastically change the way they operate in a short amount of time due to the various restrictions put in place to curb the spread of the virus.
In light of this, it’s no surprise that Singaporeans are concerned about the short- and longer-term ramifications of COVID-19 on our food security. A lot of questions have arisen. Will our food sources and consumer practices need to be changed as we adapt to a new normal? Or will food trade return to the way things were before COVID-19’s entry into the world?
What are the Key Pillars of Food Security?
And How Food Secure is Singapore?
Food security is a measure of the availability of food and an individual’s ability to access it. The way this is ascertained is by taking into account the three core pillars of food security: availability, affordability, and quality & safety.
In June 2020, the Global Food Security Index (GFSI) 2019 Asia Pacific regional report was released, identifying Singapore as the most food secure country in Asia Pacific, and the world.
This is great news for Singapore! However, we can’t take our food security for granted, especially when over 90% of our food are imported. It is critical that Singapore remains food secure and avoids the issues and challenges that some other countries are struggling with, such as disruptions to supply chains and local food production. Otherwise, Singapore’s food security could be in jeopardy too!
What Opportunities & Considerations Exist for Singapore’s Food Security?
Singapore is home to 5.7 million people, residing on 720 square kilometres of land. We produce less than 10 percent of our food requirements, as our food security challenge is inextricably linked to the bigger issue of land scarcity. We look at how new farming technologies and innovations are creating new possibilities, and how consumers and the government have important roles to play in strengthening Singapore’s food security.
Increasing Food Production Capacity Using Alternative Farming Methods
To safeguard against supply chain disruptions, the Singapore government has set a ’30 by 30’ vision for Singapore to produce 30% of our nutritional needs by 2030. With less than one percent of Singapore’s land allocated to farming in land-scarce Singapore, achieving this goal will involve developing and implementing innovative non-traditional farming methods.
Alternative farming methods – including rooftop, vertical, indoor, and high-tech farming – are increasingly playing a key role in boosting our levels of local production and increasing Singapore’s overall food security. Hydroponic and aquaponic technologies, which do not require the use of soil to grow produce, have made it possible for farmers to use the roofs of car parks, space-saving vertical growing racks, and indoor spaces housed in existing buildings, for farming.
In May 2020, a tender was put up by Singapore Food Agency (SFA) for vegetables and other crops to be grown on the rooftops of nine public housing multi-storey car parks. This followed the successful introduction of commercial rooftop farming by ComCrop, which now operates a rooftop farm in Woodlands Industrial Estate and sells its leafy greens at FairPrice Finest supermarkets and e-SG Farmers’ Market on RedMart.
A Greater Push for More Sustainable At-Home and Consumer Practices
For Singaporeans to feel more food secure, everyone has to play their part. Adopting and maintaining more sustainable food practices may not come naturally to everyone initially, but with some effort, can become one of the simplest ways to contribute to a food secure future.
One way to do this is to buy cultivation kits (often available at our farmers’ markets), and try your hand at growing your own edible crops in your very own little household ‘farm’ using whatever space you have available. Joining community farms, which allow groups of locals to come together to grow crops in shared spaces, is another way to drive sustainable food practices within the community. Growing your own edible crops will help you appreciate food more and waste less. Many who engage in this practice find it a satisfying ‘hobby’ as you can watch the fruit of your labour grow into a bountiful crop. Moreover, what comes with time is a new appreciation for our local farmers, who work hard to contribute to our food security every day.
Supporting Singapore’s farmers by buying locally-farmed produce at our farmers’ markets, supermarkets, and online stores, are easy commitments that each and every Singaporean can make.
Growing your own food and supporting local farms when you shop for groceries are both parts of a bigger behavioural shift that the Singaporean community needs to go through in order to enable local farmers to grow more of the food we need to boost our food security.
Joint Ministerial Statement on Commitment to Maintaining Open Supply Chains
Singapore’s current good standing for food security is a goal we all need to work towards to ensure it remains at a high level.
In March 2020, Singapore and six other countries issued a joint ministerial statement on their commitment to uphold trade connectivity amid the COVID-19 pandemic to facilitate the flow of goods.
While food imports are a key part of the government’s overall strategy, it’s important to keep local production at the top of our minds. We need to start implementing more sustainable practices now, and maintain them even after lockdown restrictions ease and more businesses and borders re-open.
Increasing production at local farms and encouraging more consumers to choose local produce over imported produce are processes that will take time to come to fruition. But with the right support and sustained effort from everyone, we can make our fresh food supply more resilient in the long-run and become less reliant on imports overall.
Support Singapore’s Food Security
There’s never been a better time to buy Singapore-farmed produce. Support local produce, and be a part of a more food secure, self-sufficient, and sustainable Singapore.
Shop at e-SG Farmers’ Market today!
How Buying Local Produce Supports Singapore’s Future
Fresh produce that are grown in Singapore have to meet strict farming standards set by the government. Singapore has around 200 farms producing eggs, vegetables, and fish. More and more of these producers are now applying agriculture technology to increase the production of fresh, nutritious and safe food for the residents of Singapore.
In the face of uncertainties like climate change and pandemics which can disrupt global food supply, buying local produce can bring significant benefits. These benefits impact you, Singapore as a nation, and even the planet as a whole. With this in mind, we look at how something as simple as supporting Singapore’s local produce can have far-reaching positive impacts.
4 Reasons to Buy Local Produce
Local produce are fresher, more nutritious and safe. Choosing locally-farmed produce is also more sustainable as it reduces your impact on the environment, and supports our food security and economy.
1. Fresh, Nutritious & Safe
Compared with imported produce, local produce are fresher and more nutritious. Fresh produce start losing nutrients as soon as they are harvested. As Singapore-farmed produce arrive at local retail outlets more quickly, they retain higher levels of freshness and nutrients.
Local produce are also safe to consume. As Singapore has stringent farming regulations for local produce, the locally-farmed eggs, vegetables and fish you buy have controlled quantities of agricultural chemicals like pesticides and fungicides, and any contamination is easily traceable. This gives you extra peace of mind when it comes to food safety.
Additionally, Singapore Food Agency (SFA) has put in place quality assurance schemes like the Singapore Quality Egg Scheme, Good Agricultural Practice for Vegetable Farming, and Good Aquaculture Practices for Fish Farming. These schemes are marks of food safety and quality as SFA conducts monthly inspections on farms under these schemes to ensure that the produce meet the strict standards spelt out in the schemes. So, for the best quality assurance, choose local produce certified under these schemes when grocery-shopping.
2. Less Wastage
The true cost of food includes the often invisible environmental and social impacts of food that travel long distances and require resources like transport and storage space. Since local produce travel shorter distances to get to you, they are more sustainable. They also stay fresher and remain edible for a longer period of time. This results in less wastage.
3. More Eco-Friendly
You might associate going green with driving an electric car and flying less. However, your choice of food can also help you go green. Locally-produced vegetables, fish and eggs are greener as these produce use less fuel and other resources when getting from farm to you, resulting in:
- Less greenhouse gas emissions – Food currently accounts for over 26% of global greenhouse gas emissions. You can do your part in lowering transport-related emissions by choosing local. Opting for local produce also means less energy expended for storage.
- Less water and land use – Agriculture uses 70% of global freshwater withdrawals and half of the world’s habitable land. Choosing local can reduce wastage and support more efficient food production due to the increasing use of agriculture technology by local farms to optimise resources in land-scarce Singapore.
A truly sustainable food system is one that supports local farmers, while conserving natural resources for future generations.
4. Better for Singapore’s Food Security
Buying local produce also enhances food supply resilience for Singapore. Currently, Singapore produces less than 10% of its food. It aims to produce as much as 30% of its nutritional needs within a decade as factors like climate change can disrupt Singapore’s access to imported food. To create a buffer against supply chain disruptions and volatile food prices, Singapore needs local farmers to ramp up production and consumers to support locally-farmed produce.
So, how do you make sure you are buying locally-grown produce to support our food security and economy? Look for the “SG Fresh Produce” logo on product packaging or check for labelling such as “Country of Origin: Singapore”. Alternatively, simply shop at e-SG Farmers’ Market for Singapore-farmed produce.
Support Singapore-Farmed Produce
When you choose Singapore-farmed produce, you are assured of quality produce that is fresh, nutritious and safe. In addition, buying local enhances sustainability and lowers your household’s environmental footprint.
More importantly, supporting local produce means contributing to a more resilient and self-sufficient food supply for Singapore. Disruptive trends like climate change can threaten global food supply chains, so greater self-sufficiency will give us better protection against these supply shocks and related price volatility in the future.
Make a difference by choosing local today!