Singapore’s getting a new govt body – and its priority is to make sure the country has enough food

The Singapore Food Agency will be responsible for developing Singapore’s food supply, improving food safety regulations, and handling food-borne disease outbreaks.
The Straits Times

Come April 1, Singapore’s new food-related statutory board, the Singapore Food Agency (SFA), will come into existence – and its most important job is to ensure the country has enough food supplies.

The new stat board was created to consolidate and handle food-related matters currently scattered under divisions in the Agri-Food & Veterinary Authority (AVA), Health Sciences Authority and National Environment Agency.

SFA’s priority is to develop national strategies to obtain food, Minister for the Environment and Water Resources Masagos Zulkifli said in Parliament on Tuesday (Feb 12).

According to Masagos, imports account for most of Singapore’s food supply, and the republic currently imports items from 180 countries – up from 140 countries in 2004.

The minister said the SFA would continue to look for more import sources to ensure Singapore is not overreliant on any country for food items. This would also reduce the republic’s “vulnerability to external volatility and price hikes,” he added.

In addition, it will also help local food companies based overseas to expand, thus reducing the price of imports.

Read also: Egg price hike in Malaysia due to bird flu and supply shortage, says Agriculture Minister

Another way the stat board plans to develop food security is by increasing the supply from local farms. It  is looking at educating farmers at institutes of higher learning (such as universities and polytechnics), so as to incorporate more technology and R&D in the farming sector, Masagos said.

Examples of these technologies include indoor vertical farms and deep sea fish farming.

On top of food security, the SFA will also be responsible for improving food safety regulations and handling food-borne disease outbreaks, such as tracing and recalling food products, and testing food samples.

Its “regulatory oversight over all food-related matters from farm to fork” would allow the government to “address lapses (in food safety) more quickly and more holistically,” the AVA said in a statement.

In addition, a food laboratory, the National Centre for Food Science, will be set up under the SFA to research food safety.

Read also: Following spate of food poisoning cases, Singapore introduces stiffer penalties for establishments with poor hygiene practices