Singapore’s Sky Farms Are Transforming The Agriculture Sector

Vertical fish farms
Apollo Aquaculture Group CEO Eric Ng checks on his fish at his prototype vertical fish farm in Singapore May 17, 2019. (Photo: REUTERS/Edgar Su)

Singapore's cost-efficient sky farms are changing the way people in the city-state view farming and agriculture as a whole. Lab-grown and in-building products are being promoted to help achieve the ultimate goal of producing 30 percent of Singapore's total food by 2030.

According to Voice of America, the basic principle in sky farms is to grow fish, vegetables, and other crops and seafood on top of the city-state's skyscrapers. Singapore has an estimated 5.6 million citizens, but the local agriculture sector only produces 10 percent of food products for Singaporeans.

Among the challenges that the government is faced with are population growth and climate change. With more people moving to the city-state, the biggest dilemma is space for growing crops.

"Whenever I talk about food security in Singapore, I tell folks don't think land - think space. Because you can go upwards and sideways," agriculture professor at Nanyang Technological University, Paul Teng, noted.

The idea of growing seafood outside sea areas emerged after fish farmers complained of algae blooms gradually killing fish and other oceans produce. For Apollo Aquaculture Group, the new project could help propel production for Singaporeans who patronize seafood.

Singapore state investor Temasek has been helping fund agriculture companies interested in sky farms. Among the firms that Temasek assisted is Sustenir Agriculture, a farming company that raised around $16 million in 2018 for expansion purposes.

Sustenir Agriculture utilizes artificial lighting within skyscrapers to grow various crops such as strawberries and kale. The government has been promoting the farming process to other agri-businesses in Singapore as a means of reducing costs and overcrowding in the small city-state.

Founder and CEO of Metabolic, Eva Gladek, said last week that the current food system that many countries around the world have adopted is further pushing the planet to deteriorate. According to TNW, Gladek noted that around 25-30 percent of greenhouse gas emissions have been linked to the world's food habits.

Gladek mentioned Singapore's sky farms in her speech at the TNW Conference, noting that low carbon hydraulic farming systems like the one Singapore Sky Greens utilizes can help reduce the levels of energy that tech-assisted farming demands.

Singapore stepped up its game in food security earlier this year when the government announced that malls are now welcoming various forms of agriculture. The city-state's Orchard Road features a mall where a Comcrop farm measuring 600 square meters is being tended to by expert farmers.

Since agriculture is not among the key sectors in the city-state, the government is hoping that farmers will indulge in vertical farming to reduce supply disruptions that come with excessive importing of food.

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