Food production sectors continue to transform and evolve in the digital age. This is one of the key points in Finance Minister Heng Swee Keat’s 2019 Budget Hearing.
According to figures from the Agri-Food and Veterinary Authority (AVA), Singapore imports 90 percent of its food and only 9 percent of fish consumed was cultivated locally last year.
Heng announced the establishment of the Centre of Innovation in Aquaculture to be housed in Temasek Polytechnic to address the country’s food supply and improve agri-and aqua-cultural resilience. The Centre will develop new ways to improve and promote “high tech marine farming.”
“To tap on the demand for high-quality food, and to build on our progress, Enterprise Singapore’s investment arm, SEEDS Capital, has appointed seven partners to co-invest in Singapore-based agri-food start-ups, to catalyse more than $90 million of investments,” Heng said during yesterday’s budget hearing.
The minister also cited various aquacultural projects developed by AVA Marine Aquaculture Centre in partnership with the Temasek Life Sciences laboratory.
One such example is St. John’s sea bass which has been developed to be less prone to diseases and thus much faster to breed.
AVA also established the Marine Aquaculture Centre, aiming to practice safe farming techniques, in 2003 in order to nurture a stable, reliable, and quality supply of fish to Singapore’s local markets.
This is not the first time that the government emphasized the need to improve the country’s aquaculture industry.
The state-funded year-long Earn and Learn Programme encouraged graduated of Institutes of Technical Education (ITE), given they are Singaporeans or Singapore Permanent Residents, to pursue a career in aquaculture by working firsthand with fishery experts.
Last Feb 12, Minister for the Environment and Water Resources Masagos Zulkifli also noted how food security is of utmost importance to Singapore’s national security.
The concern was raised amidst Malaysia’s announcement that it would be limiting or ultimately ending egg and seafood exports.
The address was followed by the announcement of the Singapore Food Agency, the country’s new food regulator aiming to expand options for food resources as well as develop indoor vertical farms and deep sea fish farming in the near future.
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