Written Answer by Ministry of National Development on food security
Jan 14, 2019 20:25
Mr Desmond Choo: To ask the Minister for National Development
(a) how has the Ministry sought to ensure Singapore's food security for key agricultural products over the last decade; and
(b) how does it ensure that prices remain affordable without compromising on our food security.
The government adopts a multi-pronged approach to safeguard Singapore’s food security. First, diversification of our food import sources mitigates the impact of supply disruption from any one source. As part of our diversification efforts, the Agri-Food and Veterinary Authority (AVA) regularly organises and facilitates food sourcing activities, to help our industry players find alternative import sources. We bring in food from around 180 countries, and we are continuing to strengthen our diversification efforts. For instance, we accredited some farms in Thailand to supply hen shell eggs in 2017 and we are in the process of accrediting more this year.
Second, we are transforming our agriculture sector to raise local production. In 2017, we launched the Farm Transformation Map to guide the long-term development of the sector. Since then, we have tendered out new agriculture land plots, mostly at fixed land prices, to enable tenderers to compete on productivity. We have already seen new innovative technologies and processes proposed by winning tenderers. We also enhanced the Agriculture Productivity Fund last year such that our farmers can get more funding support to purchase advanced technology and systems to optimise their production.
Third, we are encouraging our local farms to internationalise and set up overseas presence. Apollo Aquaculture is an example of a local food fish farm that has expanded its operations to Brunei. Such farms can export their produce back to Singapore to enhance our food security.
Finally, government agencies are being reorganised to enable greater focus on food safety and security. We recently announced the setting up of a new statutory board called the Singapore Food Agency which will take over the food-related work currently being done by AVA, NEA and HSA. Tomorrow, we will be tabling the Singapore Food Agency Bill and the NParks (Amendment) Bill in Parliament to effect this organisational restructuring. As part of the legislative changes, we will also introduce requirements for importers of key food items to adopt plans, including preventive strategies, to mitigate the impact of food supply disruptions.
If and when there are external disruptions in supply, there will be some fluctuations in food prices and we have to be prepared for this. But on the whole, our strategies have strengthened food security, and ensured that Singaporeans have access to affordable and safe food options. This is why the Economist Intelligence Unit has ranked Singapore as the most food secure country in the world.