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Singapore cultivates ‘Silicon Valley of food’ in a hungry Asia

Kaimana Chee, a chef at the San Francisco-based food startup Eat Just, says he never thought he would see lab-grown chicken on a consumer plate in his lifetime. (Photo by Sandy Ong)

Lab meat and indoor greens thrive as COVID highlights regional challenge

By Sandy Ong
Nikkei
July 6, 2021

Excerpt:

It is also striving to become more self-reliant. In March 2019, it announced a “30 by 30” goal — to produce 30% of its nutritional needs locally by 2030, up from 10%.

“Resilience means having the ability to withstand perturbations to the food supply,” said Paul Teng, a food security expert at Singapore’s Nanyang Technological University (NTU).

When Teng and his colleagues began studying food resilience around 2005, the focus was on food security. “Nobody listened to us,” he said.

It is a subtle but important distinction. Wealthy Singapore ranks fairly high on measures of food security — 19th on the Economist Intelligence Unit’s 2020 global ranking — but that does not mean it can rest easy.

“The government’s strategy was, ‘If we increase GDP, and have the means to purchase food, then we don’t have to worry because somebody will always have food to sell,'” Teng said. “This is fine and dandy if there is no disruption to [the food] production and supply chain.”

But price hikes during the 2008 financial crisis, Malaysia halting fish exports in 2014 and other events have highlighted vulnerabilities. Then came the pandemic.

“Globally, COVID-19 has resulted in some disruption, as some source countries banned exports of certain food items to cater to their domestic needs or went under lockdown,” said Melvin Chow, senior director of the Singapore Food Agency’s Food Infrastructure Development & Management Division.

Read the complete article here.

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