Will food prices continue to rise?

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“Last month when asked about the current drought in the United States Midwest which is affecting corn and soybean crops, Mr Lee Yi Shyan, Senior Minister of State for Trade and Industry and National Development and chairman of Retail Prices Working Group said it is not likely to have an impact here in the near term.

This is because Singapore imports a negligible amount corn, and only seven per cent of its soy beans from the US.

But a sustained price hike for the grains, which are used for animal feed, he said, may raise commodity prices in the long term.

Source

On 30 August BBC Online reported …

Global food prices have leapt by 10% in the month of July, raising fears of soaring prices …

The price of key grains such as corn, wheat and soybean saw the most dramatic increases, described by the World Bank president as “historic”.

Source

So the issue is not even that only in the long term food prices here will rise, but how soon. That it will rise in “the near term”, despite his denial, is a probability.”

Came across this interesting article about food. I ever blogged on this issue. I feel that we need to seriously look into our long term food supply. We should not treat this issue lightly. It is also for the long term security of our country.

This afternoon, I came across a TV programme where our true blue Singapore daughter Ivy Singh-Lim aka Gentle Warrior Farmer was interviewed in her 10 acres Bollywood Veggies farm at Kranji. The farm is on a 20-yr old lease from the govt.

If I remember correctly, she was quoted as saying that currently we produce about 5% of total domestic farm produce. We used to be able to produce more than enough even with the excess exported.

Due to the rapid development and high costs of land in Singapore, primary farming is slowly phased out. Only few pockets of land concentrated in Kranji and Lim Chu Kang and Neo Tiew areas are used for farming on short term leases from the state. I believe my fren, Patriot is one of those who have given up farming when his land was acquired for resettlement and development in the old Somapah area years ago.

Read about organic farming here.

Since our land is so limited and expensive; is there any way to ensure sufficient self supply in terms of farm produce like in those days? One way to go is organic farming or hypochondriac farming where no soil is needed. This is one area where we should seriously consider as an option.

So many factories have shifted and relocated elsewhere. I have seen large empty JTC flatted factories in Bedok area, Eunos, Kallang etc demolised. If you go to Bedok near to the SBS depot, large tracks of empty land used to have low storey light industry factory also gone.

Could we build more high rise buildings designed for organic farming like those demolished JTC flatted factories? We could use high tech for such farming. Maybe, we could even simulate temperate countries by using air-con to grow some of those crops only found in those countries. It could provide us with self-sufficiency in farm produce and also create more jobs for our citizens.

I was talking to some of my colleagues about growing organic food. That idea then came about. Our think-tanks and govt depts should devote more resources and study this food issue. Remember Thailand banned the sale of rice to us some time ago? It is due to excessive flooding that resulted in poor rice harvest leading to the banning of rice export. We were in panic mode then. Everyone started to hoard rice and supermarkets ran out of rice stock!

Due to climate change, there will be more extreme weather havoc leading to irregular and unpredictable food production. The urgency is getting more acute as we experience more serious climate changes ahead.

Let’s discuss about this issue. If you have any idea, you are welcome to post your comments and share with us.

Click here to read related article.

Read more about Ivy Singh-Lim here.

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About Alan Tang

I'm a Chinese Singaporean living in the Eastern part of SG. I tweet on current affairs & inspirational quotes. I blog on issues or events if they interest me. I also share some of the interesting jokes, stories or anecdotes from my friends or observations on my blog. Thanks for visiting my blog.
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23 Responses to Will food prices continue to rise?

  1. answers from mr. lee says:

    Mr Lee: It doesn’t matter whether you grow your own food or you buy your food. The question is the price. If there is a food shortage worldwide, the price of food, produce will go up. And the answer for a country like Singapore is to make sure that our incomes rise, our total GDP rises faster than the food prices.

    • Like I mentioned in my post. Money may not necessarily buy the food i.e. rice when Thailand banned rice export due to internal shortage as a result of severe flood.

  2. Pingback: Daily SG: 4 Sep 2012 | The Singapore Daily

  3. wanderingsmurf says:

    Think Singapore can do more to improve its food security. One way might be to build urban farms (like these: https://www.facebook.com/photo.php?fbid=393350657393965&set=a.205625626166470.55899.186774961384870&type=1&theater) on plots of unused state land.

    Also disagree with your suggestion to “simulate temperate countries by using air-con to grow some of those crops only found in those countries” as it will contribute more greenhouse gas emissions to the atmosphere. Contradicts all your talk about the grave impacts of climate change. So if Singapore wants to create more urban farms, they should be for tropical crops, and not temperate crops.

  4. Thank you for your comments. Points taken. There are lots of tropical crops to grow. If we can become the largest oil refinery in SEA without producing a drop if oil, why can’t we produce more farm produce despite our land limitation? It’s the political will that matters!

  5. patriot says:

    Yes, me is born into a farming family at the beginning of the 50s. And where we stayed then was about one and a half kilometres away from the sea. Our Fren Freddie’s home was just few hundred feet away from the shore.

    In the village where me stayed then, there was a sandy road(wide path actually) that separated two communes. The side closer to the old Bedok River(no more) resided the Hokkiens who were all poultry including pig and vegetable farmers who mostly grew some fruit trees as well. On the other side resided the Teochews who were almost all fishermen. Kelongs dotted the horizon along the shore from Changi to Siglap where another large community depended on the sea for living. Today, they are all gone except for a few kelongs beween Changi Point and Pulau Ubin.

    As one travels along some of the roads in Singapore, one can see that there are many empty STATE LANDS. These large pockets of empty lands were all occupied before they were cleared of settlers. Within every of these empty land, there were communities, each and every of these villages were self sustaining as far as livelihood is concerned. Amongst the villagers, there will be the builders, artisans, craft-men, food producers and food vendors. Within every village itself, there was usually more than sufficient occupations and surplus primary production both from the land and the sea. Land and marine produces were then sold at wholesale markets or at retail markets(wet markets).

    For the information of readers, me would like to inform You that soursop, tapioca, papaya, guava and wild edible plants were so plentiful then, that much had to be left rotting or fed to the poultries or wild birds and animals.

    Few people in villages then were unoccupied with work as there was always some works to generate food or income. Those that preferred to work in towns would do so and most had no problem getting employed. HOWEVER, those were the good old days only for some of us to remember fondly till we die.

    Anyway, me does not understand WHY ALL THOSE FOOD PRODUCING VILLAGES(primary production was synonymous with every village) had to be cleared of settlers. I COULD ONI TELL MYSELF THAT EXCESS HDB FLATS AT ONE POINT IN TIME MIGHT HAVE CUASED THE RESETTLEMENT OF VILLAGES. A few thousand units of HDB Flats were at one time left unsold.
    Whether it was a case of over built or poor planning, I honestly do not know.

    No matter how or what, I JUST CANNOT FIND THE EMPTYING OF THE SETTLERS FROM THE VILLAGES AND LEAVING THEM TO BREED MOSQUITOES AND CLANDESTINE ACTIVITY, A SANE
    WAY OF ADMINISTERING LAND USE..

    patriot

    • Poor me says:

      After buying and paying dirt cheap price for practically every available piece of land back then has now made the government the biggest and richest landlord. Those lands are worth millions if not billions of dollars now. The government is selling those lands piece by piece now through URA, HDB and SLA. We have all been cheated wholesale!

      • patriot says:

        Ah ha!

        Poor You and poor me
        with our wide wide open eyes
        see the scheme plays before
        us.
        Yet,
        few notice it.
        Pity us.

        patriot

  6. OldSingaporean says:

    Long ago, there was a suggestion that the government should construct HDB flats with roof-tops that can be use to grow vegetables. That idea was pooh-poohed. Time to revisit it perhaps? If this is still not feasible, how about the top of HDB multi-storey carparks?

  7. agongkia says:

    On food prices rising,I did mentioned in net before that having more hawker centres ,man by local hawkers can help to ensure our elderly having a steady rice bowl and also may keep prices down.
    It was good news when they intend to have more hawker centres.However calling in those so call experts on the way of managing hawkers make me feel like it will be run like a kopitiam and therefore may not have much effect to keep prices down and under control.

    A plate of charp chai png with the same variety sold by local hawkers which I can get at 3.50 dollar in Marsiling,Bedok South kopitiam can cost me 5.70 in Pasir Ris Elias Mall kopitiam,sold by non locals.Food prices will continue to rise if we keep patronising those stalls that kotok us.

    On farming,there are other ways of growing vegetables and if we really want to do it,it is still possible.Not only enough for local consumption,but can also export elsewhere.
    My Ah Kong grows vegetables for a living.

    • Agongkia,
      We are talking about raw food production – uncooked veggies, fish, meat etc BTW, do you know that NTUC also moving in to bid for right to run our new hawker centres? Everything also they want to control. Prices will be set by them not by individual hawkers!

      • patriot says:

        Gintai:

        Me got to say cooked food or raw food, they are all food. Without the raw food, there wont be cooked food. NTUC has gone into undertaker business on top of running coffee shops. Anywhere
        and anything that money can be made, NTUC will be in it. Maybe one day, NTUC will run this land more than the Government does. After all many services of the Government are outsourced or privatized. So, it will not surprise me that the NTUC may have more say over our living conditions than the Government.

        In my opinion, the NTUC is PAP and PAP is Singapore. Singaporeans are cooped up in a farm and reared like animals.

        Anyway, me finds the suggestion by one netizen to use the Malayan Railway Land that now belongs to Singapore, be utilized for farming very constructive, it is up to the Government to accept the suggestion. Of course, some of the empty lands that me had mentioned in the earlier comment can and should be used for food production as part of contingency plan as well.

        patriot

        • Yes, I agree with you. NTUC instead of pursuing its lofty ideal of looking after workers’ interests and welfare join the money making fray to dominate the local economy running foodcourts, coffeeshops, shopping malls, insurance, taxis, travel agency, holiday chalet and resort, clubhouses, pawn shops, easy ready credit, supermarkets, funeral services and now hawker centre. Who are are to say anything? Can we stop them? We can only observe helplessly on the sideline!

          To convert the former railway land into productive farming is a pipe dream. When everything is based on costs, profits and more profits, it will never happen. Look at the recent URA when some residents were doing farming on the empty unused land nearby, what happened? Illegal occupation of state land with threats of court action etc. Did you forget about that fiasco?

          Very difficult to talk sense to the rulers. Just wait till there is a food epidemic where money may not buy you the food, then they will wake up and realise that they neglected and fail in their duty. Maybe, they will apologize and say sorry twenty yrs later when we are faced with a food shortage! Langgar!

  8. jer says:

    why worry. kuan yew has proclaimed we have enough money — our reserves — which we can draw on to buy raw food if prices go up.

    admittedly, he did not mention what would happen if people do not want to sell us this food.

    admittedly too, he may not be around to be taken to task and be asked to stand corrected when we reach the stage where money cant buy us the food we need for the growing number of mouths to be filled in this country. sorry, this global city.

    hopefully, this incredibly far-sighted govt, who says it sees years down the road, has already got some solution in place. presumably, it cannot reveal these plans because they are state secrets. you know, like they cannot reveal how much we have in our soveriegn wealth funds.

  9. abao says:

    we should sincerely befriend our neighbours and invest manpower and resources into developing cooperative farms in their land. that way at least we will ensure some measure of sufficiency and goodwill.

  10. Nostalgic says:

    Treat your Neighbour the way we would like to be treated – proper each other and have a good friend like kampong days.

    • In those good old kampung days, we knew almost everyone. In today’s high density and compact living with a foreigner in every 3 persons living here, it’s a big challenge to replicate the kampung spirit. It’s obvious isn’t it?

  11. wanderingsmurf says:

    A timely news article about climate change and food prices to supplement your post: http://www.channelnewsasia.com/stories/afp_world/view/1224086/1/.html

  12. John says:

    If the large proportion of Supermarktes and eateries costs liabilities come from rent, any food price increase will be negligible.

    • patriot says:

      John has just revealed the MAIN REASON for food and ALL OTHER GOOD PRICES ESCALATING.
      The rent, utilities charges and the out of thin air COE, ERP and insurance are all increasing the cost of living, essential food, good and service included.

      patriot

      • Patriot,
        You are right. It’s domestic inflation not imported inflation. Our income taxes may be low but look at the myriad of costs! At the end of the day, we are one of the expensive cities in the world to live in even though our pay is still in 3rd world level. In short, we are first world country with 3rd world economy.

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