The RSIS Centre for Non-Traditional Security (NTS) Studies' Blog


Seeking Opportunity 1: Singapore Farmer’s Market

I was trying to figure out what would be the most interesting topic about food when an e-mail flew in to my mailbox. A colleague sent me a flyer about farmer’s market in Singapore! The question immediately came across my mind is if this is the kind of farmer’s market where people sell produce that they grow in their own backyard. If so, then Singapore could be considered as an example of an Asian metropolis where urban agriculture (UA), one way to creating a resilient society, can flourish.

So, off I went to the market. I was surprised when I found the first stall lining in the entrance was full of package food labeled ‘organic’. Even more shocking is the table next to it was full of fruits in boxes labeled ‘imported’. I thought I knew what I was getting into. I went further inside and found a stall that sells fresh vegetables. I eagerly asked, ‘Do you actually grow these vegetables?’ The answer was no and the seller honestly admitted that they the produce are all from suppliers. Although, there was one stall that sells free range eggs and the people said that they are locally produced.

A city like Singapore has an option to diversify its food resources to meet its food demand with locally produced food by harnessing the potentials of UA. In a Food Security Expert Group Meeting last August organized by the RSIS Centre for Non-Traditional Security (NTS) Studies, UA in Singapore was further explored.  Although UA is not the best recipe to solve the food security conundrum, it allows the city to explore its people’s resilience in dealing with food insecurity, such as price spikes or extreme weather events. People engaged in UA relearn how to produce their own food. Locally produced food also reduces the greenhouse gasses emissions from transporting the food from the field to our kitchen. UA also reconnects people with the living environment and helps to rebuild their sense of community.

Singapore might not have a vast land area for agriculture, but to set an example of UA in Singapore, there is Ivy Singh-Lim who owns 10 acres of organic farm in Kranji, an area only half an hour away from the city centre. She has a farm named after her Indian heritage –  Bollywood Veggies. Although not everyone has the luxury of owning  a plot of land like Ivy, people living in housing blocks – a common sight in Singapore –  might be inspired by community garden movements such as Cultivating Community in Australia or Federation of City Farms and Community Gardens in the UK.

Singapore farmer’s market might not be exactly as I expected. Nevertheless, there is a promising future for it as the Government of Singapore supports the growth of local farming. It has also launched Let’s make Singapore our garden campaign, where people can start their own community gardening projects and grow their own food. I believe Singapore farmer’s market will take shape, and eventually offer locally produced food.

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