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 S ingapore, being land-scarce, relies Cluster Transformation (ACT) Fund was
heavily on imports for its food. From
neighbouring Thailand and Malaysia to the far-flung reaches of Argentina and Uruguay, 90 percent of the food that is consumed by the nation’s population of 5.9 million, is flown from 170 countries and regions worldwide.
As the world’s population grows, the global demand for food is projected to be 60 percent higher by 2050, compared to 2016.
In the face of challenges such as climate change, resource depletion, outbreaks in plant and animal diseases that may impact food supply and safety, and disruptions to the global food system, as experienced with the COVID-19 pandemic, the issue of food security has become of great concern.
Among the strategies to enhance food security, the Singapore Food Agency (SFA) is working closely with many other public agencies, industry partners and foreign authorities to transform Singapore’s agri-food industry into one that is highly productive, innovative and sustainable.
With only 1 percent of Singapore’s land being used for conventional farming, SFA’s vision to produce 30 percent of the nation’s nutritional needs with locally produced food by 2030 is a tall order. The government is putting its hopes in technology, stating that multi-story LED vegetable farms and recirculating aquaculture systems can produce 10 to 15 times more vegetables and fish than conventional farms.
Local Production
To support the transformation of Singapore’s agri-food industry, the $60 million Agri-Food
launched in April 2021 to support local farmers in their efforts to expand production capability, boost
yield, raise productivity and sustainability, and improve
circularity of resource use. The ACT Fund is available until December 2025
and since its launch,
SFA, who administers
the funds has received a
total of 23 applications
as of 31 December 2021. Eight applications have been approved with grant amounts ranging between $10,000 to $700,000.
Supporting R&D
On 26 April 2021, SFA announced that
a total of $23 million is being pumped into research and development (R&D) projects to boost Singapore’s food security. The 12 projects in ‘Sustainable Urban Food Production’ will look into innovative solutions to increase productivity, taking into consideration factors such as cost-effectiveness, resource use efficiency, sustainability and climate resilience. Among the 12 awarded proposals, eight are in the domain of aquaculture and four in urban agriculture, with projects spanning research areas such as genetics, disease & health management, systems & conditions optimisation as well as nutrition. The proposals were awarded to projects that demonstrate potential for scalability in Singapore and abroad.
To name some examples: one proposal by researchers from the Nanyang Technological University (NTU) and Panasonic Factory Solutions aims to find out how the real-time
monitoring of crop health and nutrient analysis can help to reduce waste and boost productivity in hydroponic cultivation; scientists from the Agency for Science, Technology and Research (A*STAR) are working with UVAXX, a vaccine producer company that develops vaccines for aquaculture, to develop one against a virus that causes scale drops in Asian sea bass; Tropical Futures Institute, Republic Polytechnic (RP) and Wageningen University are working with Barramundi Asia and UVAXX to supercharge barramundi production through advanced selective breeding.
Mr Lim Kok Thai, SFA Chief Executive Officer said, “With challenges that impact global food security such as climate change, rising population and decreasing land for agricultural use, R&D holds the key to the future of food.”

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