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Speech by Mr Masagos Zulkifli, Minister for the Environment and Water Resources, at the Sky Greens SS 632 Certification Ceremony, on 11 June 2019

TOPICS: Food

Mr Jack Ng,
CEO of Sky Greens Pte Ltd

Dr Ahmad Magad,
Secretary-General of Singapore Manufacturing Federation

Ladies and Gentlemen

1         Good afternoon. Today, we witness the certification of Sky Greens under the Singapore Standards for Organic Primary Produce, or SS 632. This is the world’s first organic standard for produce grown in urban and peri-urban environments, and Sky Greens is the very first local vertical farm to be certified. Let us congratulate Sky Greens.

2         I am confident this milestone for Singapore’s agri-tech industry will be followed by many more, as our farms continue to transform themselves to tap on the latest market opportunities.

Changing agri-food landscape

3        The agri-food landscape is changing rapidly. As global population continues to grow, global food demand will also rise. At the same time, vital resources such as water and energy, needed for the production of food, will be increasingly scarce. Climate change will exacerbate the situation. Amidst this, new food production methods and techniques will emerge to meet these new challenges.

4        Earlier this year, I announced that we will increase our local food production as one of our key strategies to bolster Singapore’s food security. We target to produce 30 per cent of our nutritional needs locally by 2030, also called our 30-by-30 vision. This is more than a three-fold increase from our current levels of production.

5        To achieve our 30-by-30 vision, we will need to leverage on science and technology to grow more with less. We will have to develop our own approach, to grow more nutritious food with limited water, energy and land, and within a highly urbanised and densely built-up living environment. If we succeed, we will be able to share our experience with other countries and export our solutions. In the process, we will also grow our enterprises and create good jobs for our people.

Growing potential in the organic food market

6        One area with significant growth potential for our farms is the increasing demand for organic food. The global organic food and beverage market is expected to grow to US$320 billion by 2025, with the fastest growth anticipated in the Asia Pacific. In Singapore, growing consumer awareness and the wider availability of organic products in the market have contributed to the increasing demand for organic food.

7        Our local farms are already leveraging on technology and best practices to grow quality organic produce. Sky Greens is a first mover. Sky Greens is the first vertical farm in Singapore, and grows vegetables in nutrient-rich organic compost, using sustainable organic agriculture processes which can be effectively traced from farm to fork. I understand that other hi-tech farms in Singapore, such as Panasonic’s indoor farm, have expressed interest in being certified under SS 632.

8        High food standards and stringent regulations help to build trust in Singapore’s food products and services. This in turn enables our farms to gain market share locally and access new markets overseas. Currently, we have a certification scheme to recognise local vegetable farms that adopt the code of “Good Agricultural Practice” as a food safety assurance system. Going forward, SFA is looking to develop a set of “Clean-Green Standards” for urban vegetable farms that adhere to high standards, but are not strictly organic. This will recognise farms that produce safe, good quality, and nutritious vegetables in a clean, resource-efficient environment with no pesticide use. The Standards will be developed together with the industry, academia and consumers.

Leveraging circular economy approaches

9         Another area where we can set high standards is to adopt a circular economy approach in food production. Some of our farms are already turning waste into resource.

10       N&N Agriculture is a good example of a farm which has adopted a circular approach. The farm converts poultry waste to biogas using an anaerobic digester. The biogas is then used to generate electricity used by the farm. The solid by- product of anaerobic digestion is also used as compost for growing vegetables. As a result, the farm generates no waste that needs to be incinerated or landfilled.

11       At the national level, our agencies recently formed a National Mirror Committee on Circular Economy under the Singapore Standards Council, to participate in one of the technical committees formed by the International Organisation for Standardisation (ISO). The government will work with industry players to develop standards relating to the circular economy. By working together to adopt the circular economy approach in the agri-food industry, we can identify synergies between our food, water, energy and waste sectors, and co-create innovative solutions to enhance local food production and be more resource efficient.

Supporting local produce

12       Consumers play an important role in helping our local agri-food industry to grow. When we buy more local produce, the demand enhances the commercial viability of our local farms, and leads to economies of scale. This allows local farms to invest more in technology and develop further. From an environmental perspective, local produce reduces our carbon footprint as they travel a shorter distance to reach consumers. The products are also fresher and safer as they are easily traceable. Local produce can be easily identified by their “homegrown” labels or quality assurance logos.

Conclusion

13       To conclude, there is immense potential to transform our agri-food industry and develop our local enterprises. By tapping on the growing potential of the organic food market and adopting a circular economy approach to produce food safely and sustainably, our local farms can tap on new business opportunities, export agri-tech solutions overseas, and support our 30 by 30 vision.

14       Congratulations to everyone involved in realising this milestone certification for Sky Greens.

Thank you.

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