Singapore is a small island with a population of 5 million and with a surface area of 710 square km. Most of the land is used for urban development, which leaves little to no room for farming and agricultural purposes. Singapore’s small size leaves little to gain in resources which also means that the island is almost entirely dependent on importation for good. More than 90% of food is imported from over 30 close countries such as Malaysia, Thailand, Philippines, and also from other distant countries such as Australia, New Zealand, Israel and Chile. They even have to important water from neighbouring Malaysia. (8 countries with no natural resource but, thrive to become world major exporter 2017)
This is why agricultural advancements within Singapore are incredibly important. For example, Inventor and entrepreneur Jack Ng with the help of Agri-Food and Veterinary Authority (AVA) created the first profitable vertical farm. Ng set up a company called Sky Greens to grow more food in a small space. This vertical farm is the “world’s first low-carbon, water driven, rotating, vertical farm.” This project is environmentally friendly. This design initiative is shaped by local context and is developing around Singapore’s social, cultural, economic and historical context. (Seneviratne 2012)
The vertical farming is called “A-Go-Grow”, and holds up to 38 rows equipped with troughs in an A-shaped structure. The tower rotates slowly; absorbing sunlight at the top and when it rotates back down, the plants are watered at the bottom. The closed cycle system allows for basic maintenance and releases no exhaust for maximum efficiency. (Next-gen urban farms: 10 innovative projects from around the world 2017)
Focusing on environmental sustainability, Sky Green rotation system is powered by recycled water and eventually is filtered and used to water the plants. This method produces a low carbon footprint due to the low-use energy consummation rates, averaging to about 60 watts of power daily. (Urban farming looking up in Singapore 2014)
The vertical farming is better than modern farming because the system produces a higher harvest of safe, high qualify, fresh and delicious foods. Ng knew that if the system was too expensive or complex, urban farmers would not know how to operate it or afford it. As he designed the project with the elderly and farmers in mind, he made it easier for them, through the clause that sees the plants rotate and come back around to you.
Ng plans to sell his vertical farm towers to other countries for $10,000 each. Singapore is now expanding the vertical farming and placing them on rooftop gardens on residential block housing of a large portion of Singaporean population, in order to produce enough food to feed the residents. This initiative could therefore potentially provide livelihoods for the elderly and housewives. (Seneviratne 2012)
Furthermore, the vertical farming initiative boasts high efficiency, with fresh vegetables being harvested every day and delivered immediately to the markets. Even though Sky Greens’ vegetables cost 10% more than the imported vegetables, the customers are happy to purchase Singapore-grown produce. As a consumer said, “The prices are still reasonable and the vegetables are very fresh and very crispy.” (Krishnamurthy 2014)
To achieve sustainability to improve the environment, Sky Greens adopts the ‘reduce, reuse, recycle’ method to help maintain the environment and to produce high quality and fresh vegetables for the consumers. This is achieved through the use of less energy and water needed to grow the vegetables. By this method, it reduces carbon dioxide being emitted into the air, and how close the market places are for the consumer; therefore, it reduces transportation costs and risk of spoilage.
“We cannot depend totally on imports. We are a land scarce country and therefore need to be able to maximize use of our land in the area of food production. Local production acts as a buffer against severe disruptions in food supply “. (Krishnamurthy 2014).
By Ammy Luy
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