How we can play our part in Singapore’s food supply resilience?

Not enough land. Not enough farms. We import 90% of our food and we love to eat. What has the gahmen done? What can an average Singaporean do?  
AVA should send a thank you note to the Malaysians.

After our neighbours threatened  said they were  thinking of reducing egg supplies to Singapore, suddenly there is a renewed interest in Singapore’s food supply strategies and efforts.

Ensuring a resilient supply of safe food has always been a priority of AVA. Go flip their annual reports and it’s always the first to be listed under their list of missions.

On Tue (15 Jan), the Singapore Food Agency (SFA) Bill was introduced to pave the way for the new government agency to be set up under Ministry of Environment and Water Resources. So no more AVA, hello SFA. Ensuring Singapore’s food supply resilience continues to be one of SFA’s key roles. And not surprisingly, to better protect Singapore from threats to disrupt our food supplies, the authority is putting in place new measures:

sfa - bill

Two Ministers – Minister for National Development Lawrence Wong and Minister for Trade and Industry Chan Chun Sing – also responded to parliamentary questions on food resilience this week.

Both ministers said that their respective ministry adopts a multi-prong strategy.

The MND prongs are:

  1. Diversifying our food import sources to reduce the impact of supply disruption from any one source. That’s why we import food not only from Southeast Asia and rest of Asia, but also from the Americas, Europe, Africa and Oceania.
  1. Transforming our agriculture sector to raise local production. Because Singapore doesn’t have enough land for traditional farming, our farmers need to use innovative ways to increase their production. They can get more funding support to purchase advanced technology and systems to produce more.
  1. Encouraging local farmers to internationalise, set up overseas presence, produce a lot and export some back to Singapore to enhance our food supplies.

 

What are the MTI prongs, besides food diversification of supply chains?

  1. Maintain a stable and strong Sing Dollar to preserve Singapore’s purchasing power. If your money is “bigger”, you can buy more things.
  1. Maintain an open competitive market structure to prevent any unethical profiteering. Basically, if hawker A in market increases prices by 50% but hawkers B and C either maintain or reduce prices by 7%, the market price will be stable or only increase slightly, not sharply.

 

If you think the two ministers ownself say ownself shiok, actually Singapore’s efforts have the support of the Economist Intelligence Unit, which ranked Singapore as the most food secure country in the world. Surprise surprise!

It’s not fake news. The Global Food Security Index released in Oct 2018 places Singapore at the top spot – the first time since the index started in 2012.

SFA - economist.JPG

Singapore’s two key winning factors:

  • High income economy – our GDP per capita has risen close to 30% since 2012 (i.e. the country as a whole is rich enough… )
  • Lowest tariffs on agriculture imports among all 113 countries assessed – helps to lower the overall cost of importing food (especially important since we import 90% of our food)

But because we import majority of our food, we are also most susceptible to climate and natural resource risks such as rise in temperature, drought and flooding, health of land and water resources.

So our gahmen doing a lot liao. What can we the consumers do? We also got a few prongs:

  1. Support local farmers

Because if Singaporeans don’t support Singaporeans, who will?

Some of us mind paying a dollar or two more for local produce, but actually it’s a demand and supply thing. More demand then more incentive for local farmers to think of ways to produce more and eventually supply will go up. More supply, easier for prices to come down.

sfa-vertical farming

 

  1. Reduce food wastage

SFA-howmuchweeat.JPG

Singaporeans eat a lot but we also waste a lot.

According to NEA, the amount of food waste generated in Singapore has increased by about 40% for the past 10 years. In 2017, 809,800 tonnes or 809.8 million kg of food waste is generated. Only 16% of this amount is recycled. Not trying to say that we should eat more leftover food now as part of food recycle. But how about we start by buying and cooking just the amount we need to minimise wastage? Also, don’t over-order when we cater for buffet?

 

  1. Consider changing eating habits

If your survival does not depend on that food item that is becoming more and more expensive, can consider cutting down the amount you eat per week.

 

Just some food for thought.