Thoughts of food security, HDB multi storey carparks and farming in Singapore

May 25, 2015

Cars are likely to be less affordable to the average Singaporean who own HDB flats. This means as time goes by many of the multi level car parks in HDB’s will begin to empty out.

The rate of emptying out can be very easily computed to provide a fairly accurate projection of how many acres will be available for commercial farming.

There are of course constrains in farming in multi level carparks, height limits the type of crops along with material handling complications. But all these are not insurmountable problems.

Light for example can be harvested and piped just like water with fiber optics, mirrors and intelligent tracking devices. Hydroponics dispenses with the need to use dirt and manure keeping HDB’s clean and orderly. The availability of overhead structures facilitates automation.

There are many opportunities for commercial farming in Singapore.

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‘If I farm in Singapore. I would grow coffee. I know the crop like the back of my hand. Coffee is a very Kwai Kwai tree unlike oil palm or fruit trees. It does not shed its leaves . They are on the tree year round. So they are like cats. That makes them ideal for strata cultivation. With the right farmer, you can train them like dogs to grow only 5-8 feet tall and still be very productive. They don’t need pollination either so there are no bugs. The coffee cherries are turn bright red when ripe, that’s good. As robots can very easily be programmed to pick red stuff. They are pretty flexible and there is a lot of room for improvisation – in terms of ROI, coffee offers the best bang for the buck – world coffee consumption is likely to double with Arabica taking the lead closely followed by robusta.

But as I said, the farmer is very important. As coffee trees are like children. They can be very playful and mischievous, if one doesn’t know how to love them with the right balance of discipline and affection or know how to bring out the best in them – for instance, they can boycott the farmer, if they don’t like him. They can also produce male flowers that never ever turn into coffee beans.

But the real joy of coffee is it’s a very adorable crop that most people will always want to know more about. You can crush a dried coffee bean and bring it to the nose of someone and they would smile, purr ‘mmmmmhhh!’ and follow you to the ends of this earth. Or infuse it with deep mystery by gently heating it in a skillet over charcoal embers till it crackles and pop like popcorn as everyone watches mesmerized by the release of aromatics and colloids – grind it into powder and serve it there and then pipping hot with a Jaffa biscuit.’

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