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Remarks by Mr Masagos Zulkifli, at the G20 Agriculture Ministers' Meeting Breakout Session 3: Pursuing Possible Contribution to Achieve SDGs, on 11 May 2019 in Niigata, Japan

Chairperson

Excellencies

Distinguished delegates

          I would like to thank the Government of Japan for the warm hospitality and hosting of the G20 Agriculture Ministers’ Meeting, and to Saudi Arabia for leading this breakout group. We are happy to contribute to the discussions. 

Changing global landscape and SDGs

2        Based on United Nation’s estimates, the global population is expected to grow by 32% to 9.7 billion in 2050, and global food demand is projected to rise by 50% from 2013. Resources vital to food production, such as water and energy, will be increasingly scarce. 

3        As such, collectively achieving the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs), in particular Goal 2 on ending hunger, achieving food security and improved nutrition, and promoting sustainable agriculture are particularly important. Given the importance of this, each country will need to take action, according to our own circumstances. Allow me to share Singapore’s experience in this.

Singapore’s agri-food landscape and approach towards transformation

4        As a city-state that imports more than 90% of its food, Singapore is exposed to global price and supply fluctuations as well as possible food supply disruptions, due to climate change and disease outbreaks. To bolster our food security and contribute to SDG 2, we will pursue three broad strategies – grow local, grow overseas and diversify import sources. Our “30-30” vision is to meet 30% of our nutritional needs locally by 2030. It is paramount that we make efficient use of scarce resources such as water and energy, and leverage on technology so that our local food production is sustainable and resilient against climate change. 

Leveraging on Technology and Circular Economy Approaches

5        To overcome our constraints and transform our agriculture sector to one that is high-tech, innovative and sustainable, Singapore has been leveraging on science and technology innovations to grow more with less.  For example, the Singapore Food Agency (SFA) has been tendering out land to farms that innovate and adopt technology to raise production sustainably. This pushes our farmers to optimise the use of land, and adopt technology and automation to reduce manpower and resource needs.

6        We have been helping our farmers to adopt novel approaches, such as vertical indoor farming and use of smart technologies. They can reduce reliance on manpower, increase resource efficiency and decrease vulnerability to environmental risks. In doing so, we can leverage on market driven approaches, where there the Government supports the private sector by providing an enabling environment through correct policies and incentives, such as grants for research to overcome constraints in energy, water and space to achieve productivity.  We expect the private sector to innovate for solutions for more sustainable food production through circular economy approaches.

7        For example, N&N Agriculture, one of Singapore’s egg farms, has adopted technologies to convert waste into green energy. By using an anaerobic digester, the egg farm converts chicken manure to biogas, which is used to generate electricity. This is carbon neutral compared to burning fossil fuels. The solid by-product of anaerobic digestion is then used as compost for growing vegetables. The farm generates no waste that needs to be incinerated or landfilled. Another example is Sustenir, an indoor vegetable farm, which re-channels carbon dioxide, a by-product from the petrochemical industry, to enhance vegetable yields.  Within the region, we have also seen a move towards more sustainable production of agriculture, such as in palm oil production.

Engaging Citizens

9        Beyond technology, every citizen can play a part to bolster local food production and reduce food waste.  We have been supporting community urban farming, such as on rooftops. We also encourage people to reduce food waste, and will require commercial and industrial premises, where large amounts of food waste are generated, to segregate their food waste for treatment from 2024. The on-site treatment of food waste reduces associated costs, such as carbon emissions, involved in the transportation of food waste to off-site facilities for treatment. To support a national effort towards zero waste, my Ministry has designated 2019 as our Year Towards Zero Waste.

Conclusion

10      To conclude, the SDGs represent the collective aspirations of our global community. Through our efforts to grow local, adopt circular economy approaches and co-create innovative solutions to enhance food production and be more resource efficient, we will contribute to the SDGs.  To succeed in our effort to ensure a stable supply of food for all, we need to work together to support the 2030 Agenda and promote a rules-based, open and non-discriminatory multilateral trading system under the World Trade Organisation (WTO). Singapore is committed to working with the G20 and other countries to implement the SDGs and to enhance our collective food security.

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