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Government to push for technology adoption in urban farming industry: Koh Poh Koon

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(R-L) Benjamin Swan, Co-founder and CEO of Sustenir Agriculture brief Dr Koh Poh Koon, Senior Minister of State, Ministry of Trade and Industry on the Controlled Environment Agriculture (CEA) farming method during the launch of Singapore's first locally grown strawberries and the opening of R&D lab.

SENIOR Minister of State for Trade and Industry Koh Poh Koon on Wednesday highlighted the importance of technology in Singapore's food security.

Speaking at Sustenir Agriculture's launch of its locally-grown strawberries, he said: "Technology, we believe, will be the important enabler to ensure sustainable food production especially in the era of massive climate change affecting global food production."

Innovations by local companies have certainly used technology in their journey to redefine farming.

For example, Sustenir Agriculture's Controlled Environment Agriculture techniques have allowed it to grow non-native crops such as strawberries, kale and arugula in Singapore.

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Similarly, Sky Greens uses hydraulics to power a nine-metre-tall growth tower, where it uses vertical farming methods to grow 10 times more produce compared to soil-based farming with a fraction of the land use.

With such noteworthy progress, the government hopes to get more players in the industry to leverage technology for their operations.

It provides budding entrepreneurs with financial support, such as the Agriculture Productivity Fund, the Enterprise Development Grant and the Productivity Solutions Grant.

It is also partnering institutions of higher learning to implement the Earn-and-Learn Programme for students, as well as provide innovative spaces for current farmer communities.

To endorse rooftop farming, Dr Koh noted that housing agencies will need to make some changes to their regulations.

"Maybe be more flexible and liberalised in some areas to accommodate such needs. So it is actually a learning process for us as well as the farmers."

He added that with further collaborations, more innovative solutions can be found.

"With technology, the opportunities (for a self-sustaining Singapore) are there. It is only left to our imagination to see how they can be capitalised on, to do more with less, and to get ourselves more self-sufficient."

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