30X30:Our Hunger for Food Security

The story of food security in Singapore

Fish, Leafy Vegetables and Eggs

Hi everyone, welcome back ๐Ÿ™‚ For a quick recap, we learnt about the agriculture scene in Singapore since the 40s, and how food security is not a new concept.

So where does that bring us today? Before I started this blog, I did a quick survey about what my friends (around three quarters were BES course mates) knew about food security.

Seems like we all have a lot to learn!

While most of us were reasonably sure about eggs and vegetables, a significant percentage of people were unable to identify what else Singapore produced.

Currently, a quarter of eggs, a tenth of fish, and 14% of leafy vegetables consumed in Singapore are grown locally. Of all 220 farms, 77 farms grow leafy vegetables, 121 farm fish (of which 109 are offshore) and just 5 produce eggs. I find it interesting that eggs, which we are most self-sufficient, have the least number of farms. This is especially noticeable when compared to fish farms. Is there a need for the consolidation of fish farms in the immediate future to achieve economies of scale? There certainly is room for cooperation. In 2015, waters off Pasir Ris were affected by algal bloom. Less affected farms took mitigation measures early, such as by temporarily transferring fish to farms in other areas. Larger farms with branches in different areas may be better able to handle these transfers at the first sign of trouble. It is also not as if fish farming is still in its infancy in Singapore. As early as 1984, โ€œmarine cage net fish farmsโ€ were in operation and accounted for 2% of fish consumed locally. If consolidation is not possible, fish farms could look into forming some sort of consortium which facilities cooperation and risk-sharing. After all, algal blooms are expected to be more common due to climate change and other anthropogenic reasons (Gobler, 2020). On the other hand, there are also risks to having just a small number of large companies. Should one company close due to financial mismanagement, local supply will be heavily affected. Of course, eggs and fish are very different products and it may not be possible to compare their markets quantitively.

It is also interesting that only half the participants surveyed identified fish as the top 3 products. I suppose this could be because most farms are offshore and barely noticed by Singaporeans. Moreover, fish are often sold without much information other than price and name.

Fish sold at my local supermarket

There is little information about their origin, unlike eggs and supermarket vegetables which at the very least have the farmโ€™s name on it. Certainly, more can be done to highlight local produce when it comes to seafood.

barramundi of unknown origin sold at my local supermarket

Is this barramundi farmed in Singapore or imported? Nobody knows.

What are your thoughts on the number of fish and egg farms as compared to the percentage supplied locally? Let me know in the comments.




  1. Hi Ee Kin,

    I do agree with you that there is room for cooperation between farms, although whether consolidation is really a good idea is debatable. In my opinion, the reason why we can do with much fewer egg farms is because the output of one farm can be incredibly large, considering that one hen can produce many eggs in her lifetime. This is compared to fishes which can only be farmed once, and the number of fish that can be grown in one area is limited.
    Indoor fish farming, including vertical aquaculture, is on the rise. Do you think that this is a good solution to ensure continuous fish supply considering climate change? Could it be a solution to increasing and maintaining our fish supply by 2030? Should all open-sea farms convert to indoor aquaculture? Would like to hear your opinion on this!

    • See Toh Ee Kin

      September 20, 2020 at 8:18 PM

      Hi Ernest, thanks for stopping by.
      There are definetly differences between eggs and fish that make it difficult to compare them quantitavely.

      Verticle aquaculture is definetly worth looking into as it is more land efficient as compared to other land based farms. Currently though, there are more than 100 sea-based farms and I doubt all of them will have the capital to move to land. Seeing how the government only intends for 1% of our land to be for agricultural uses, I doubt there will be enough space for all the farms too.
      Offshore farms can consider adopting a closed containment system instead of the current open net ones. In fact there are at least two pilot projects being supported by SFA now (https://www.sfa.gov.sg/food-for-thought/article/detail/closed-containment-systems-an-answer-to-rising-eco-threats-30-by-30-goal). I’m not sure if offshore verticle aquaculture is possible. Of course, there are some issues with this that I may be exploring in a future post.
      If land based verticle aquaculture catches on, I think new companies will be taking the lead. Offshore farms may well continue so long as they remain economically viable.

      Thanks for your insights about vertical aquaculture.

      Ee Kin

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