Contributing to Singapore’s “30 By 30” Goal – Dave Huang of Kok Fah Technology Farm
Dave Huang’s family has been in the farming business for 4 generations. Inspired by how his great grandfather, grandfather, father and uncles have devoted their lives to farming and made it their livelihood, Dave joined the family’s business upon graduating with a Bachelor in Marketing & Management in 2009. As the 4th generation farmer of Kok Fah Technology Farm, he is dedicated to taking the farm to the next level with new technologies, as well as finding new channels to market the farm and its produce as Business Development Director.
Dave admits that the idea of a more self-sustainable Singapore “is a big dream, but not an impossible goal”. Driven by the desire to make a difference in the farming scene and be able to contribute to Singapore’s “30 by 30” goal, he spoke to SAFEF about Kok Fah Technology Farm’s mission to deliver the best leafy greens to customers, the tips to picking fresh vegetables, as well as how the farm plans to continue building a food-secure future for Singapore.
Vegetable Farming Evolving Over 4 Generations
Dave’s family-owned farm was started by his great grandfather many years ago. His father and uncles then took over the running of the farm in 1979, and officially established it as Kok Fah Technology Farm in 1995. Over the years, the family farm has evolved exponentially.
Dave shared that in the early days, the family focussed only on soil farming and “relied a lot on manual labour” which called for long hours out in the open, battling both sun and rain because automation was not available.
Thanks to the advancement of technology, Kok Fah Technology Farm has blossomed into a soil and hydroponics farm. Automated equipment are now used on its soil farms to reduce the amount of time and labour needed to perform certain functions, such as removing seedlings from the seedling tray for transplanting. The farm also boasts an integrated Cold Chain Packaging House used post-harvest to pack its vegetables in ideal conditions to ensure freshness and quality. It even has a Research & Development Hydroponics Greenhouse where it conducts experiments to find the best farming techniques to “yield more vegetables effectively”.
Dave added that the farm has been certified by Singapore Food Agency (SFA) to have Good Agriculture Practice (GAP) for Vegetable Farming, which means that it “adheres strictly to the guidelines set by SFA”. In addition, it stops spraying pesticides on the vegetables 2 weeks before harvest to ensure that its vegetables are safe for consumption.
Tips for Enjoying Fresh Leafy Greens Every Time
Kok Fah Technology Farm grows a wide range of nutrient-rich leafy vegetables including Cai Xin, Baby Kai Lan and Xiao Bai Cai, as well as a variety of Spinach and Lettuces. In addition to producing Asian and salad greens, Dave said “we even grow Aloe Vera to make our own Aloe Vera desserts”.
When it comes to picking fresh vegetables, Dave shared this tip: “Vegetables should be firm to the touch and not look limp.” He added that it’s common for vegetable leaves to have holes. This shows that the vegetable is sweet enough to attract pests, and indicates that little or no pesticides have been used. In fact, these “ugly vegetables” are as rich in nutrients as those without holes, and are safe to eat.
Another tip? Dave said that “fresh vegetables are best eaten with few condiments”. Fresh sliced garlic and some oyster or mushroom sauce are all that are needed for a delicious and nutritious dish.
A New High-Tech Hydroponics Farm for the Future
Kok Fah Technology Farm is playing a vital role in ensuring Singapore’s food security. Having successfully tendered for a 2-hectare piece of land for a high-tech hydroponics farm, Dave expressed his intention to keep abreast of technological advancements and “use more technology in the farm” to further improve its farming techniques and quality of its produce.
With farms like Kok Fah Technology Farm constantly using new technologies to improve, Singapore will be able to grow more of its own vegetables in time to come.
Contributing to Singapore’s Food Security
By farming fresh produce locally, Singapore farms ensure that consumers have access to fresh and nutritious produce that meet SFA’s strict food safety standards.
On why consumers should buy local produce, Dave explained that “locally-farmed produce are usually fresher and last longer than imported ones due to the shorter time it takes for the produce to get from farm to table”. Also, by choosing local, we will “reduce our reliance on imported produce and lower transport-related carbon footprint, which will in turn give us a healthier earth”.
Dave said, “farming is a challenging job but also a rewarding one, especially when told that our vegetables taste better and last longer than imported ones”. As a lot of Singaporeans do not know that Singapore has local farms, he is excited to re-commence Kok Fah Technology Farm’s guided farm tours which had to be halted temporarily due to COVID-19. Now that approval has been granted to conduct private tours in small groups, he looks forward to fostering knowledge and appreciation for local produce through the tours, which not only showcase the farm’s hydroponics greenhouse, but also teach participants how to grow their own vegetables through hands-on activities. The tours even give participants the opportunity to sample the farm’s freshly-harvested lettuce, and a bottle of its very own Honey Aloe Vera Drink!
Where to Buy Kok Fah Technology Farm’s Produce
Accessing fresh produce from Kok Fah Technology Farm has never been easier: Its range of produce is now sold at NTUC FairPrice, selected Hao Mart outlets, the farm’s own Weekend Market, and also online at e-SG Farmers’ Market on RedMart.