SINGAPORE: A total of 28 bids were submitted for 12 land parcels to be used for vegetable farming in Lim Chu Kang, the Agri-Food and Veterinary Authority (AVA) said on Thursday (Oct 26).
The land parcels are the first to be tendered out for agriculture in more than 20 years. The 12 plots with 20-year leases were put up for public tender in August. Nine are located at Neo Tiew Harvest Lane, two at Neo Tiew Harvest Link and one at Neo Tiew Harvest Place.
A fixed-price tender method was used, with bidders competing on the basis of their tender proposals, while land prices are fixed.
The proposals will be evaluated based on factors such as production capability, track record, relevant experience and qualifications, and the ability to use innovation to improve and sustain production.
One farmer who submitted his bid is 30-year-old Desmond Khoo, founder of Eden PurelyFresh Farm.
"Our proposal tackles the problems of space (and) efficiency using vertical technology and some indoor farming," said Mr Khoo. "With all this technology, we hope our proposal is something special that AVA can consider."
CONCERNS OVER SOIL QUALITY, TECHNOLOGY COST
However, Channel NewsAsia understands that some farmers did not go ahead with the bid due to concerns over the soil quality of the tendered land.
"The land condition of the new site is not too ideal for soil-based farming," said president of the Kranji Countryside Association Kenny Eng, who spoke with farmers in his association.
"So it may not be able to achieve the yield they hope far compared to the existing site."
Mr Eng also cited the large amount of money needed to invest in technology as another reason discouraging some farmers.
"There is no guarantee at this present moment that high-tech farming is able to increase their yield compared to what they’re currently doing," he said.
In response, an AVA spokesperson said that the sites have been "assessed to be suitable for vegetable production".
"Nevertheless, as part of good agricultural practices, farmers can make additions to improve the soil’s fertility and deploy efficient irrigation systems to ensure the crops are well-irrigated. Farmers can also consider using soil-less farming methods," she added.
Account managers assigned to the farms have helped the farmers with the tendering process, the spokesperson said.
A technology-matching session was also organised last month, bringing together farmers, solution providers and agribusiness investors to "explore collaboration opportunities", the spokesperson added.
The results of the tender will be announced after the proposals have been evaluated, AVA said.
The plots are part of the 60 hectares of land set aside by AVA earlier this year for food farming in Lim Chu Kang and Sungei Tengah.
It is the first tranche of a total of 36 plots, with another three plots for fish farming to be put up for tender by the end of this month.