AVA food fund gets $10m to improve local farm operations

AVA food fund gets $10m to improve local farm operations

The Government has added another $10 million into a fund to help improve the operations of local farms, Minister for National Development Khaw Boon Wan announced yesterday.

The Agri-Food and Veterinary Authority's (AVA) Food Fund, launched in 2009, is aimed at reducing Singapore's reliance on food imports. The latest sum, the third tranche, comes after two previous tranches involving funding of $10 million each.

The strategy aims to either encourage companies to develop their capabilities to increase production here, or help them import more from other countries.

So far, the fund has benefited 71 companies and 141 projects, and increased local farm production by 550 tonnes of fish and 360 tonnes of leafy vegetables.

"For the new tranche, eligible farmers can look forward to greater funding for quality seeds and fish fry. We will also simplify the application process," said Mr Khaw, who was speaking at AVA's inaugural food industry convention.

Going forward, Singapore is prepared to invest in overseas food sources, he said.

He cited Temasek Holdings subsidiary Singbridge's investment in the Jilin Food Zone in China as an example.

AVA will also focus on increasing the productivity of local farms. "(The farms) must invest in technology and adopt efficient farming methods so that they can grow more with less land and fewer workers," Mr Khaw said.

Heavily reliant on food imports, Singapore guards against food shortages by diversifying its sources. It imports more than 90 per cent of its food from 160 countries.

Consumers too, can do their part by making changes to their lifestyle choices, said Minister of State for National Development Mohamad Maliki Osman who spoke to the media at the event.

Following a 2008 campaign by AVA to get consumers to eat more frozen meat, sales of such meat have gone up, he added. Its aim is to reduce Singapore's dependence on the chilled varieties.

Next, he shared that AVA is trying to get consumers to switch from using shelled eggs to powdered or liquid eggs.

mellinjm@sph.com.sg


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