October 7, 2022


Singapore to farm resource efficient foods over poultry because of limitations



Grace Fu, Singapore's Minister for Sustainability and the Environment, said the country focuses on farming resource efficient foods over poultry because of limitations in land, workers, energy, and water, Channel News Asia reported.


She said the country prefers to focus on growing foods that can be produced in a way that is both resource-efficient and economically viable.


Fu said, citing data from the United Nations Food and Agriculture Organization, that producing 1kg of chicken for meat results in approximately three times as many CO2-equivalent emissions as some fish.


Fu was responding to inquiries from MPs regarding Singapore's food supply and the effects of Malaysia's ban on the export of chicken.


In order to strengthen the resilience of Singapore's poultry supply, Joan Pereira, a Member of Parliament, questioned whether the authorities would take into account setting local production targets for poultry and poultry products under Singapore's "30 by 30" food security goal.


By 2030, Singapore hopes to produce up to 30% of its nutritional requirements domestically, an increase from less than 10% at present, as part of the "30 by 30" initiative.


Shawn Huang, another Member of Parliament, inquired about the effects of the disruption in the supply of chicken as well as the government's long-term strategy for Singapore's poultry supply.


Due to supply chain disruptions brought on by pandemic, the war in Ukraine, and countries prioritising local supply in the face of rising prices, the issue of food security has received increased attention recently.


There are about 260 small farms in Singapore that produce goods like fish, eggs, and vegetables.


More than 90% of the food consumed in the nation is imported from roughly 170 different nations and regions.


According to Fu, Malaysia only accounts for 34% of Singapore's imports of chicken, down from 37% in 2018, adding that 25 countries are permitted to export chicken to Singapore.


After Malaysia decided to impose an export ban on June 1, Singapore has been working to secure additional supplies. Last month, Indonesia was approved as a new source for imports.

Gerald Giam, a Member of Parliament asked about the obstacles to increasing the list of nations whose imports of poultry are authorised.


In response, Fu said that when it comes to imports, food safety continues to be the main concern.


She said food safety is still very important, even though Singapore's food sources are more varied. Only accredited sources that adhere to Singapore's standards for animal and food safety are permitted to export to Singapore.


Giam also inquired as to what the authorities were doing to encourage importers of poultry to purchase their chicken from already authorised alternative sources. He suggested that until Malaysia completely lifts its restrictions on chicken export, import fees for live and chilled poultry from all authorised suppliers be waived.


Fu said Singapore has no sizable import taxes that would prevent the development of new markets.


Although Thailand and Australia are authorised to import live and chilled chicken, she said Malaysia controls 99% of the market.


Even though Singapore has accredited other nations, importers still do business with Malaysia due to their close proximity and shared history, she said.


She also said the source market will always be attractive to importers for cost-competitive reasons, adding that this can occasionally be attributed to close proximity and well-established logistics networks that enable the fastest delivery of goods.


She said importers won't want to explore new possibilities because doing so might raise prices. Consumers may be hesitant to try new products because they are unfamiliar, so Singapore must periodically assess whether a licencing requirement is necessary.


She said this has been done for eggs and the country will consider whether to do the same for chicken.


However, she issued a warning that the more restrictions the nation places on business licences and regulations, the more rigidity they will bring about.


She said they might have to do it because encouraging or requiring businesses to diversify is a trade-off, so the country will act accordingly if it determined that there is a sound strategic basis for doing so.


-      Channel News Asia

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