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The Singapore Food Authority (SFA) has announced that it has awarded six tenders for urban farming at nine multi-storey carparks, comprising five single sites, and two clusters of two sites each. Each site will have a term of up to three years.
The sites will be at the following locations:
- Blk 513A Choa Chu Kang Street
- Blk 723A Tampines Street 72
- Blk 946A Hougang Street 92
- Blk 352A Ang Mo Kio Street 32
- Blk 260 Kim Keat Avenue 51
- Blk 354 Admiralty Drive and Blk 316A Sembawang Vista
- Blk 276 Jurong West Street 25 and Blk 273 Jurong West Avenue 3
The sites range from 1,808 sqm to 3,311 sqm, the largest of which is at the rooftop of the MSCP at Blk 273 Jurong West Ave 3.
Melvin Chow, senior director of SFA’s food supply resilience division, said in May that the launch of the tender for the nine sites came as a result of growing interest from both the industry and the public towards urban farming in community spaces.
Use of technology for urban farming
SFA chief executive Lim Kok Thai explained that the tenderers’ proposals included hydroponic and vertical farming systems with a variety of innovative features such as Internet of Things, blockchain technology and automated climate control.
For example, one of the tenderers, AbyFarm, will be using a combination of hydroponics and aeroponics vertical farming methods; the farming process is expected to use 90 per cent less water, and it is said to be 10 times more productive compared to traditional methods.
“The farm will be entirely automated, with real-time technology used to control the environment within the greenhouse, and to consistently monitor the crops and early identify the possibility of bad crops, which will ensure the quality of our crops,” said Phoebe Xie, director and co-founder of AbyFarm.
With an expected yield of 200 tonnes of fruits and vegetables each year, the company is looking to harvest local favourites, such as kang kong and kai lan as well as other types of produce such as mushrooms, figs and Japanese melon.
Part of Singapore’s 30 by 30 plan
These urban farming sites are part of the SFA’s strategy to produce 30 per cent of Singapore’s food supply by 2030, also known as the ‘30 by 30’ plan. Coincidentally, they also align with the Housing Development Board (HDB)’s Green Towns Programme to increase the amount of greenery within HDB estates. SFA is also working closely with HDB to tender out more multi-storey carpark rooftop sites for urban farming later this year.
“With these farming systems, the sites have the potential to collectively produce around 1,600 tonnes of vegetables annually,” said Lim.
Minister for Sustainability and the Environment Grace Fu also mentioned in a Facebook post that “the challenges of COVID-19 and climate change, together with other trade and environmental pressures, pose a threat to Singapore’s supply of critical resources such as food”.
As land is scarce in Singapore, the SFA has been “unlocking alternative spaces to grow food, such as vacant buildings, like the former Henderson Secondary School and carpark rooftops”.
Other urban farming initiatives in Singapore
Currently, there are a few urban farming initiatives that can be found around Singapore. One of these is Citiponics, which operates in Ang Mo Kio. The farm can grow up to 25 types of vegetables, and produce 4,000 kg of vegetables a month. It makes use of an aqua organic system, where a constant stream of water and nutrients is pumped through a network of pipes. Additionally, no pesticides are used, and no waste is produced as well, making the farm an eco-friendly and sustainable option.
Tampines, one of the upcoming Eco-Towns, will also be introducing more green initiatives, such as a vertical farm, which will be installed on the exterior wall of Blk 146 Tampines Ave 5. The farm will grow popular vegetables such as milk cabbage (nai bai), red spinach (bayam), kai lan and choy sum.