Indoor kale
Kale growing indoors at a downtown NTUC Fairprice outlet in Singapore. Image: Eco-Business/ Liang Lei.

Sowing the impossible? A special report on Singapore’s ‘30 by 30’ food challenge

Five years ago, Singapore set out to triple its food production by 2030. Now, output remains low, while profitability seems like a pipe dream for many farmers. What went wrong, and how can we get the agri-tech drive back on track?

In a high-ceilinged warehouse about a kilometre away from Singapore’s airport, what is set to become the island’s largest indoor vegetable farm is quietly ramping up its production.

With imposing metal pipes snaking along the corridors, the 8,000-square-metre space could be easily mistaken for a heavy industry facility – if not for the purple hue that illuminates the interior, where 16 stacked layers of benches stand ready to receive seedlings via a conveyor belt.

From seeding the microgreens, herbs and salad vegetables to allocating them to optimal climate zones for growth, nearly everything on the farm – built and owned by Dutch agritech firm Growy – is automated, an exemplar of land-scarce Singapore’s vision of a highly efficient food production landscape.

At full capacity, the farm will be able to produce up to 500 tonnes of leafy greens annually. This could support Singapore’s target of meeting 30 per cent of its nutritional needs locally by 2030, which is in need of a massive boost.

Five years since the ambitious “30 by 30” goal was announced, the food self-production figure has stayed below 10 per cent. This is despite new farming ventures in the dozens sprouting up, many supported by government grants. Output has slid for vegetables and seafood – two key food types – while some high-profile farms have closed shop.

leaf background pattern

Transformasi Inovasi untuk Keberlanjutan Gabung dengan Ekosistem →