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Singapore to invest additional S$165 million in food security programme: DPM Heng

03:50 Min
A food security programme led by the Singapore Food Agency (SFA) and the Agency for Science, Technology and Research (A*STAR) will receive an additional S$165 million in funding, Deputy Prime Minister Heng Swee Keat said on Wednesday (Oct 26). Rebecca Metteo with more. 

SINGAPORE: A food security programme led by the Singapore Food Agency (SFA) and the Agency for Science, Technology and Research (A*STAR) will receive an additional S$165 million in funding, Deputy Prime Minister Heng Swee Keat said on Wednesday (Oct 26).

Launched in 2019 with an initial investment of S$144 million, the Singapore Food Story R&D Programme supports Singapore's 30 by 30 goal – a push for the country to produce 30 per cent of its nutritional needs locally by 2030.

The additional investment brings the total amount committed to the programme to more than S$300 million.

"The significant step-up in investment is an expression of our commitment to food security, and our belief in the value and potential of the agri-food sector," Mr Heng said during a speech at the Singapore International Agri-Food Week gala dinner at Gardens by the Bay.

The Singapore Food Story programme was launched with an initial focus on aquaculture, urban agriculture, future foods and food safety. The additional investment will see its scope expanded.

"First, we will build new capabilities to expand the range of foods that our farms produce," said Mr Heng, who is also the Coordinating Minister for Economic Policies.

"Currently, our farms produce mainly leafy vegetables, eggs and fish. We will expand the foods produced to include more fruited vegetables and crustaceans.

"Soon, I hope prawn mee with mostly Singapore-produced ingredients could be a common sight in our hawker stalls."

Through genetics and breeding of agri-inputs such as fish fry and seeds, the programme will also seek to improve productivity and nutritional qualities while increasing resistance to disease and climate change, Mr Heng said.

"Take fish for example. We are looking to develop superior fingerlings suited for tropical aquaculture that can contribute to a 30 per cent increase in farming productivity," he said.

"We are also seeking to reduce fish mortality from common fish diseases from the present 70 per cent to 100 per cent, to between 20 per cent (and) 50 per cent."

The programme will also deepen Singapore's capabilities to be an innovation node for future foods, Mr Heng said.

"Alternative protein is a promising area to meet Singapore's food and nutrition needs in an urban environment," he said, noting that Singapore was the first jurisdiction in the world to grant regulatory approval for the sale of cultured meat.

"We will be developing new analytical methods for food safety assessment, which can better deal with unexpected hazards in food innovation without requiring lengthy testing," Mr Heng added.

"This will provide an important foundation for the innovation of future foods in Singapore."

Mr Heng said that research and development efforts in Singapore would also contribute to the food needs of the region and the world.

To illustrate this, he used the examples of rice, dairy products and alternative proteins to represent traditional, modern and future foods respectively.

He highlighted how the Temasek Life Sciences Laboratory is working on making rice cultivation more sustainable, while Singapore-based companies like Oatside and WhatIF Foods have created plant-based milk alternatives.

He also discussed the work of local companies such as Shiok Meats, Esco Aster and Next Gen Foods.

"Alternative proteins are potentially more sustainable compared to traditional cattle and poultry farming, consuming much less water and arable land, with a smaller carbon footprint," Mr Heng said.

Concluding his speech, Mr Heng said that agri-tech and food-tech remains a bright spot, although the global food challenge has become more pressing.

"Singapore is keen to do our part, for ourselves and the region," he said.

"We are doubling down on the Singapore Food Story to strengthen our food resilience goals. We are also committed to improving lives in the region working in collaboration with partners from around the world to shape how food is developed and produced, ranging from traditional, to modern, to future foods.

"The potential to create positive change is tremendous."

Source: CNA/kg(mi)


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