When you think of Singapore, agriculture is most definitely not the first thing that comes to my. Due to it’s scarcity of land, the city-state was never able to really invest heavily into agriculture. Instead, it was content to specialise heavily into other high-demand industries and used the profits to import the majority of it’s food supply.
However, Singapore is seeking a change to it’s predicament. Today, the country now boasts of strawberries that are grown indoors commercially, shrimp meat that is cultivated in labs, and alternative protein that is extracted from plants.
Some might say that this move is pointless and that Singapore should continue on as it always had. But the city-state has some rather compelling reasons for taking on this experiment. Singapore currently imports approximately 90 per cent of it’s food supply. With growing populations around the region, unpredictable weather and a shaky geopolitical landscape, we cannot blame Singapore for taking steps to safe-guard themselves via an increase in local food production.
In March 2019, the government announced an ambitious plan to ramp up its local food production to 30 per cent by 2030 to improve food security; a significant step up from the current output, which stands at under 10 per cent.
“Today, it is no longer just about tackling hunger. We need to grow better and healthier food in an environmentally conscious manner. Nutrition is the new frontier”, said Ted Tan, deputy chief executive of Enterprise Singapore, at the recent Future of Food Asia conference.
Many venture capitalists have had positive things to say about the move. They describe Singapore as the perfect place to develop and distribute both agriculture and food technologies in Asia due to the country’s strategic location, strong R&D capabilities and a supportive government.
The lack of an already pre-established and developed agricultural sector results in a unique environment where organisations can freely experiment and innovate in ways that would be too detrimental to the existing industry in other agricultural economies. This is especially good news for start-ups seeking to enter the food industry.