Food security: the case of Singapore
The pandemic and the ensuing crisis have forced many countries to rethink the way their economies work and the resources they need. The disruption of supply chains and the inability to import necessary products showed how important food security is for every country. The crisis hit the economy of Singapore especially hard: here, food imports constitute 90 percent of the total supply of the domestic market. The country’s budget costs $10 billion a year to buy goods. To reduce food dependence, the Singapore authorities adopted a new strategy, according to which by 2030 domestic production must provide 30% of the needs of the population.
The country is the third most densely populated country in the world, and its area is extremely limited. For example, Singapore has a population of 6 million people on a piece of land the size of half of Los Angeles. To accommodate all this number, the architecture of the island nation is characterized by dense construction, consisting for the most part of skyscrapers. Accordingly, in this situation, it is quite difficult to allocate land for agricultural production. Farms occupy only 1% of the total area, which is not enough to supply the domestic market. In order to reduce dependence on imported food products, the authorities intend to increase the production of fruits and vegetables in order to cover the need for them by 50%. In addition, there are plans to increase the production of proteins and basic products, such as rice, which can provide 25% of total consumption.According to the food security program, over the next 10 years, production should increase threefold. The main problem in implementing the strategy is the lack of land, and in this case, Singapore decided to use the opportunities of modern technology, providing comprehensive support for the local sector to develop new projects. The government is investing in AgroTech startups, including VertiVegies, which grows vegetables and fruits using vertical farming methods. The company intends to build a farm that, with an area of 20 thousand square meters, will supply stores and restaurants with about 6 tons of vegetables and greens every day. The technology from VertiVegies ensures that the plants grow 25% faster than when they are grown outdoors. Just one such farm can increase vegetable growing in the country by 10%. Vertical farming can be a solution to the problems of food imports for Singapore and other countries that are also dependent on supplies. In addition, this production option is more environmentally friendly and sparing to the environment than traditional farming approaches.