Food security in Singapore

June 8, 2017

One of the reasons why Singapore food retailers have been unable to exert any influence on food prices, especially during the run up to festive seasons despite having AVA is because Singapore does not have a hinterland where it can produce, store and distribute food on a large scale commercial basis.

Hence, while American and EU food retailers traditionally sell produce at goodwill discounted prices during Christmas and thanks giving, in Singapore our mediocre food companies typically raise prices by blaming it on the vagaries of the free market…it seems very little attention or effort seems to be directed at keeping food affordable for the average Singaporean.

If we can have Singapore airlines, telecommunications juggernauts that are even large enough to snap up equity of firms abroad and even property Developers who seem to be able to bring nature inside an aircon ambient – I wonder why can’t there be more effort made to encourage Singaporeans to grow food abroad?

Every country in the world from Malaysia to Vietnam would welcome agro based investments simply because it would alleviate the living standards of those in rural areas.

Having a network of offshore agriculture and livestock nodes along with supply depots thru out the AP region and beyond would enable AVA to reliably block purchase CPO futures thus keeping the price of produce stable thereby ensuring the absence of price hikes.

Instead what AVA seems to only want to do is keep all the home grown farmers within Singapore while they diffuse all their energy on trying to grow food the high tech way – that I don’t deny may seem sexy, if only you didn’t realise it hardly makes any sense at all. As this only bumps up the cost of capital investments for farmers as they are forced to upgrade their processes to increase yield, but since this calculus doesn’t necessarily translate into anything resembling the competitive advarnage of economy of scale that can only be accomplished with big hectarage to produce commercial size yields efficiently…the price of home farmed produce will still be very high to the average Singaporean household.

Singapore should train more Farmers. The present cohort of Farmers in Singapore should be encouraged to go beyond Singapore and AVA instead of just playing the food policeman role cum regulator should be streamlined to provide value added services specifically to enhance food safety at site, instead of just lazily testing and proofing produce at the gate. They should also be task to incentivize native farmers to start more agro based businesses abroad where Singapore should produce for herself and supplement the rest of the world – and in the process create business opportunities, make money for our country and most importantly guarantee every Singaporean affordable and nutritious food.


‘Food security will always be a very boring subject. Only because most people especially Singaporeans have absolutely no idea how produce actually gets from farm to fridge. To most Singaporeans it must be a distant abstraction like comets and spring snow. But since I make my living as a farmer. I am really like one of those grunts stuck in trenches…I know how crumbly the compact between man, land and nature is especially with environmental degradation. I’ve been thru two el Nino’s. It doesn’t get easier with the repeating….each time it’s hard as nails and demands every molecule of my wits and a lot of luck just to get to the other side safely. I’ve seen first hand how crops can fail because it’s too dry or when there’s too much rain…it’s all very tenuous, very fragile and filled with all sorts of hazards. More of an art than science.

At the current and expected rate of man’s consumption of global produced food….there is only one overwhelming reality….food will likely be a problem in the future….as feeding the world is fast becoming a conundrum that even baffles the experts. This is the mathematics of reality that cannot be avoided given the available resources and opportunities and threats.

I think if more people in the homefront pressed the pause button when they’re about to tuck into their meals…..and simply asked, how did this all come to me? Will I be able to enjoy this one day in the future without too much fuss?

Then perhaps they might worry too and to worry is not such a bad thing. especially when everything seems to hum along happily. As for one it staves off complacency and compels one to reflect deeper about the things that should really matter most in life….just as when one is blessed with plenty one would do well to get by with very little….in peace one would also do well to prepare for war. To buy into the belief tomorrow will always be like today is to court disaster.’

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