Mailbox: Vertical farming can be next goal

Mailbox: Vertical farming can be next goal
The first vertical farm in Singapore, owned by Sky Greens. Vegetables grow on 120 9m-tall towers and the harvest is sold at five FairPrice Finest outlets.

More than 90 per cent of the vegetables we consume are imported. To reduce our reliance on imports, we could consider vertical farming on an extensive scale ("Farming in the concrete jungle"; May 10).

The Agri-Food & Veterinary Authority, local universities, polytechnics and the private sector have made impressive progress in aquaculture and hydroponics. The public sector needs to accelerate production of fresh produce and also create job opportunities for graduates and retrenched workers.

The Government can identify and build the basic infrastructure for vertical farms in various parts of Singapore, such as within JTC or HDB precincts, green zones and existing farming zones, or even on the Southern Islands. The types of produce can vary depending on their location.

Some of these farms can even be run as social enterprises by the National Trades Union Congress.

Extensive vertical farming can also generate revenue from eco-tourism and germinate start-ups from the learning and research centres within these farms. If special herbs as well as medicinal and rare plants are included, pharmaceutical and biotechnology research centres may also be encouraged to relocate to Singapore.

Vertical farms within HDB estates can provide not only jobs but also learning, recreation and bonding opportunities for residents. Each farm should strive for a low carbon footprint by using renewable energy and an efficient waste management system.

At the opening of the World Cities Summit, Singapore International Water Week and CleanEnviro Summit on Sunday, Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong said "people's expectations are rising and other cities continue to move ahead, developing innovative solutions and setting new standards" ("S'pore to harness technology to become 'smarter' city"; Monday).

My hope is for Singapore to develop a new standard it can show the world - urban vertical farming.

Dave Lim

This article was first published on June 06, 2014.
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