Singapore Food Agency to turn Singapore into an agri-food hub: Masagos
Singapore Food Agency to be set up in April to deal with food challenges
The establishment of the Singapore Food Agency (SFA) will write the next chapter of Singapore's food story, Minister for the Environment and Water Resources Masagos Zulkifli told Parliament yesterday.
Beyond securing and ensuring a supply of safe food for Singaporeans, the SFA, which will be formed in April, will also aim to transform Singapore into an agriculture and food, or agri-food, hub.
The bill that provides for the establishment of the SFA was passed yesterday.
Mr Masagos said the SFA will develop and enhance Singapore's three "food baskets" - national strategies to obtain food, with imports remaining the biggest one in the foreseeable future.
Referencing the potential disruptions to egg and seafood imports from Malaysia last December, he highlighted the need to further diversify import sources.
Singapore's sources expanded from 140 countries in 2004 to 180 today, and the SFA will build on that. The SFA will also require importers of key food items to have plans that mitigate such supply disruptions, he said.
"This will not be the last time that Singapore faces possible disruption to our food imports," Mr Masagos said, adding that the SFA will work with other agencies to ensure basic food items remain affordable.
The second basket is locally grown produce and Mr Masagos said the SFA will intensify efforts to grow the agri-food system in Singapore, create good jobs in the sector and ensure that food production is environmentally sustainable.
He added that the future of Singapore farming has to be technology, research and development driven, climate-resilient and resource-efficient.
The SFA will also continue its support for local companies that want to expand and grow overseas - the third food basket.
On the demand side, Mr Masagos said the SFA will prioritise public education and outreach - promoting local produce and the consumption of substitute, more sustainable foods, like liquid eggs and plant-based protein.
MPs also highlighted the spate of food poisoning and food contamination cases last year.
Mr Masagos said that with oversight over the entire food supply chain from farm to fork, the SFA can respond to safety incidents more quickly and holistically.
Regulation of the food industry was previously split between three different agencies.
The Agri-Food and Veterinary Authority regulated food safety during import, production and manufacturing, while the National Environment Agency (NEA) regulated food hygiene at the retail level.
Analysis of food samples was conducted by laboratories under the Health Sciences Authority (HSA).
Mr Masagos said the SFA integrates operations related to food safety and provides a single point of contact for the public to give feedback.
A single food agency will also harmonise food licensing, tapping on technology to improve the food regulatory regime, and deepen food safety expertise.