Goal to grow local agriculture sector may not succeed, says IPS conference panellist

3 months ago 24

SINGAPORE - The push to grow the local agriculture sector "may not probably succeed", said a local researcher at the Institute of Policy Studies' (IPS) Singapore Perspectives conference on Monday (Jan 17).

Dr Harvey Neo, a senior fellow at the Lee Kuan Yew Centre for Innovative Cities at the Singapore University of Technology and Design, said that he liked the idea to grow the sector, and noted the aspiration, but added that it should "not be in a sense that you cannot even achieve it".

Such targets in Singapore's Green Plan 2030 become "fictional and almost fantastical, and it's not realistic", he said.

Under the plan, Singapore aims to produce 30 per cent of its nutritional needs locally and sustainably by 2030.

One example that shows the difficulty in achieving this goal is how local farmers face uncertainty in their businesses, said Dr Neo.

Land leases, while renewed, are getting shorter and shorter, while others have been asked to move their farms.

While the farm lands were not taken away and alternative sites were offered, this disrupts operations and is an inconvenience, he said.

"Do you want to provide an environment of stability that really convinces people that you truly want this and you are committed to providing the resources available necessary for people to actualise this vision, this aspiration?" said Dr Neo.

Dr Neo had been asked for his comments on the plan by IPS senior research fellow and head of its governance and economy department Christopher Gee, who was moderating the panel on the topic of "City as Green Space".

His fellow panellist, Dr Olivia Jensen, noted that Singapore has a reputation for setting realistic targets and going on to achieve them.

"And I think perhaps the reason why Singapore hasn't set a target for net zero is because it doesn't want to do so until there's a clear idea of how it gets there," said Dr Jensen, who is lead scientist at the Lloyd's Register Foundation Institute for the Public Understanding of Risk at the National University of Singapore.

Net zero refers to the plan to achieve net zero greenhouse gas emissions by 2050 to help slow global warming. Other countries like the United Kingdom have committed to it.

Dr Jensen also spoke on the key role of sound governance and policymaking in achieving goals in terms of sustainability and climate action.

Singapore has done well on this front, suc...

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