The Peak (Singapore) - - Contents -

There is a fu­ture for farm­ing in Sin­ga­pore.

Farm­ing – which barely makes a blip as an in­dus­try in land-scarce Sin­ga­pore – may see a surge yet. In May, the Agri-Food & Ve­teri­nary Au­thor­ity of Sin­ga­pore an­nounced that it would ten­der 36 plots of farm­land to­talling 60ha, with pri­or­ity given to high-tech farm­ers.

Des­mond Khoo, the 30-year-old CEO of Eden Pure­lyfresh Farm, is prepped for the new di­rec­tion. Ear­lier this year, he be­gan ex­per­i­ment­ing with multi-tier farm­ing on his 1.6ha farm­land, where he grows a va­ri­ety of veg­eta­bles in­clud­ing bok choy, choy sum and spinach. Com­pared to tra­di­tional, man­ual-in­ten­sive ways, multi-tier farm­ing sees seedlings grown in­doors on lay­ered shelves and wa­tered us­ing an au­to­mated timer, there­fore in­creas­ing pro­duc­tiv­ity while re­duc­ing man­power costs.

“The Gov­ern­ment is try­ing to help farm­ers digi­tise and that’s the only way for­ward,” says Khoo, who has been farm­ing for 15 years. He adds that as only 600ha of land in Sin­ga­pore – less than 1 per cent of the coun­try – is al­lo­cated for farm­ing, it is vi­tal for farm­ers to max­imise its use. “In­stead of be­ing known as the na­tion with the most farm­land, we can be the one with the best tech­nol­ogy to pro­duce the most veg­eta­bles per hectare,” he says.

For now, he is ex­per­i­ment­ing with the lat­est science, such as in­cor­po­rat­ing In­ter­net of Things (IoT) con­nec­tiv­ity into farm op­er­a­tions. IoT links de­vices – such as ther­mostats – that are not nor­mally con­sid­ered com­put­ers to the In­ter­net, al­low­ing them to gen­er­ate and ex­change data with min­i­mal hu­man in­ter­ven­tion, thereby vastly in­creas­ing ef­fi­ciency.

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