• Enhancing Agri-Inputs: Focus on developing high-value, specialised agri-inputs like feed additives and bio-stimulants to reduce dependency on imports and strengthen food security.
  • Sustainable Farming: Adopt innovative practices and vertical integration to make local farms more financially viable and resilient, while converting side streams into valuable products to support a circular economy.

In Singapore, we enjoy an enviable abundance of food. Our supermarkets are stocked with fresh produce and other food items from around the globe, and our hawker centres and coffee shops offer delectable local and international cuisine at affordable prices, conveniently located throughout the island. However, this abundance prompts an important question: Are we taking it for granted? How sustainable is this situation in the long run?

Recently, food security has become a critical global issue. Pandemics, climate change, and geopolitical tensions have disrupted food supply chains, highlighting nations' vulnerability to food shortages. As a city-state with limited land and natural resources, Singapore imports over 90% of its food supply. The Singapore Food Agency (SFA) has diversified food imports from over 180 countries. In 2022, Singapore ranked 28th on the Global Food Security Index (GFSI), scoring well in Affordability, Availability, Quality and Safety but falling short in Sustainability and Adaptation. Despite SFA’s “30 by 30” strategy to meet 30% of our nutritional needs by 2030, challenges remain in achieving true self-sufficiency during crises as recent events have shown.

Safeguarding Food Security During Crisis

Even with disruptions caused by border closures during the COVID-19 pandemic, our supply lines remained largely open, allowing us to source food from unaffected regions. However, the true test of food security lies in our ability to produce food when our borders are completely and indefinitely closed. Currently, Singapore is unable to produce its own food at scale due to our reliance on essential agri-inputs such as seeds and fertilisers for agriculture, and feed and fingerlings for aquaculture.

Securing Agri-Inputs

From a broader perspective of the agri-food value chain, agri-inputs at the upstream of the chain are crucial for achieving true food security. Without these agri-inputs, our local farms would be unable to yield any fresh produce since Singapore does not manufacture these inputs at scale. Cost and land scarcity are often the key barriers, cited by industry players to setting up economically viable operations in Singapore. While this is true for commoditised, undifferentiated agri-input production, Singapore companies can carve out a niche by creating specialised and higher value products.

Leveraging Singapore’s strength in R&D, high-value agri-inputs such as feed additives and bio-stimulants can serve both the local market and the greater agrarian economies in our Southeast Asian neighbourhood. This ensures that companies in this sector expand their overall addressable market. In times of need, the very same processes and equipment can be tweaked to produce commodity agri-inputs to sustain our farms’ production for local consumption.

Ensuring Farm Business Sustainability

Next, we move down the value chain to look at our farms. Fundamentally, farms are food factories where agri-inputs are the raw materials. Like conventional factories, farms in Singapore face challenges including high utilities, manpower, and land lease or rental costs. This has led to relatively higher prices for locally produced food which many local consumers find too expensive when compared to imported alternatives. The high-cost structure and lower sales have caused struggles and closures of several farms recently.

To achieve long-term food security, it is essential to ensure the business sustainability of our farms, which includes being financially viable and resilient to economic pressures. One way to achieve this is to help farmers adopt innovation through vertical integration; this involves embracing technologies and practices at various stages of production and supply, enabling them to become product owners to capture more value from their products and thereby command higher profit margins.

Creating Nutrition from Sidestreams

To further bolster Singapore’s food security, we are excited to announce the launch of our e-Guide, "Extracting Wonder from Waste," a concise guide to agri-food side stream valorisation. Many side streams from the agri-food value chain can be converted into food products, directly contributing to Singapore’s nutritional needs. Our e-Guide will be your starting point on the journey to side stream valorisation, showcasing available technologies for adoption and collaboration. Download the e-Guide here and start turning waste into wonder!

IPI's Role in Food Security Innovation

At IPI, we enable enterprises to drive their business growth through innovation. Our Tech Offers have added value to various companies, plugging gaps to accelerate their innovation processes. For instance, we have supported enterprises in adopting new technologies, optimising processes, and enhancing product offerings to meet market demands efficiently.

Some of our Tech Offers include:

  1. Optimised Nutrient Formulation for Improving Crop Yield
    This technology uses a scientifically balanced mix of essential nutrients to promote optimal plant growth and increase crop yields. It addresses common agricultural challenges such as nutrient deficiencies and inefficient fertiliser use, boosting crop performance and promoting sustainable farming practices.
  2. Precision Delivery Technology Enhancing Biological Pesticide Efficacy
    This technology uses biodegradable materials to encapsulate and deliver pesticides more effectively, reducing the amount needed and minimising environmental impact. It enhances pest management strategies, protecting crops and promoting sustainable agricultural practices.

A notable success story involves Par International Holdings, a local food commodities supplier, transforming its business with IPI's help. By upcycling spent grains into high-protein, high-fiber products, they not only addressed sustainability but also created new revenue streams. This collaboration with IPI's Innovation Advisors highlights the potential of turning food side streams into valuable products, promoting a circular economy and significantly boosting business growth.

Food security is not just about having enough food but ensuring a resilient, sustainable food system. At IPI, we are dedicated to driving innovation and collaboration within the agri-food sector. We invite all stakeholders to explore our technology scouting and other open innovation services to create a more secure and sustainable food future.

Through our Food Security Innovation Tech Bundle, we aim to strengthen Singapore's food security, ensuring resilience in the food supply chain while promoting sustainable and profitable agricultural practices. By fostering collaboration and leveraging cutting-edge technologies, we strive to create a robust ecosystem that supports the agri-food sector's growth and sustainability.

For more information, contact us today.