Singapore

Government weeds out farms for misusing land

Amid the Government's push for farms in land-scarce Singapore to be more productive, eight farms have been penalised in the last four years for repeatedly misusing land for purposes other than agriculture.

The misuses concern the carrying out of various unauthorised activities on farmland, such as subletting space for non-farming activities or the conversion of space into non-farming uses without approval.

The Agri-Food and Veterinary Authority (AVA) and the Singapore Land Authority (SLA) told The Straits Times: "Enforcement actions such as warning letters and composition fines were taken against these farms. When the lease/tenancy of the six farms expired in end-2014, AVA terminated their farm licences; and SLA did not renew their lease/tenancy."

On top of the six that did not have their leases renewed when they expired, two fish farms - one in Lim Chu Kang and the other in Pasir Ris - had their leases terminated for unauthorised earthworks.

SOIL

ST understands that this means the farmers had brought in large amounts of soil onto the farmland.

The lease for one of the two fish farms, at 40, Lim Chu Kang Lane 5, was terminated in July 2015.

During a visit to the site in May, ST saw an SLA signboard hanging on the gates, stating the land is state property.

The lease for the Pasir Ris fish farm was terminated in 2013.

AVA said the licences of both farms were also terminated.

Its spokesman said its officers conduct regular inspections to ensure compliance with its regulatory and licensing conditions. Those who do not comply may receive warning letters or be fined.

She said farmland must mainly be used for agricultural production, adding: "For new farmland, farmers are allowed to develop visitor amenities such as cafes and farm education centres if they are kept within 10 per cent of the land area, subject to planning approval.

"Farms must also rectify any non-compliances. If the farms are recalcitrant offenders and the non-compliances are severe, AVA may suspend their licences. The leases of such farms may also not be renewed."

Less than 1 per cent of land here is marked for farm use. The local agriculture sector also produces less than 10 per cent of total food supply, but it is still considered vital for food security, serving as a buffer in case of food supply shocks.

As of May, there were 358 licensed farms here, of which 212 were food farms.

FOR MORE, READ THE STRAITS TIMES TODAY

FARMINGAGRI-FOOD AND VETERINARY AUTHORITY (AVA)food