SINGAPORE: Biofarming encouraged to increase leafy vegetable output
Ngiam Tong Tau, CEO of the Agri-food and Vetinary Authority, has been explaining the high-tech method of biofarming, where plants are cultivated in a soil-less environment. The concept has been developed in Singapore over the last twenty years and now "slowly we're seeing encouraging signs, with factories, schools and apartment blocks embarking on such projects.""Hydrophonic and aerophonic growing methods would increase yields phenomenally… so we want people to go into this, although it means higher investments," he commented.Theoretically, by 2008, less than 1% of Singapore's land area can be used to grow about one-fifth of the country's vegetable quota. Drug-carrying plants could also be cultivated, with genetic scientists engineering plants in the controlled and enclosed biopharm arena.And if the land cannot be spared, biofarming can be done on the rooftops. "When we began this programme, we did not realise that we had actually sown the seed for urban agriculture in a modern city," Dr Ngiam said. Such farms "will blend into the modern city landscape as well as provide an oasis in the hard and harsh-built environment."Dr Ngiam spoke of the potential for such farming methods at the First Pacific Rim Soil-less Culture Symposium at Ngee Ann Polytechnic. In a country that consumes near 100,000 tonnes of leafy vegetables a year but produces only 7,500 tonnes, the news that within ten years self-sufficiency could be attained through rooftop vegetable cultivation was extremely welcome.
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