Residents today witnessed the harvesting of the first batch of Temasek Rice grown at a vertical high-tech farm in the housing estate of Tampines by Netatech. Supported by Tampines Town Council, Temasek Foundation, and Temasek Life Sciences Laboratory (TLL), this harvest is part of a research initiative by Netatech to explore possibilities in cultivating crops including leafy vegetables and rice, through good husbandry, plant science and technology.
Besides high yield, fast growth and disease resistance, Temasek Rice is a semi-dwarf variety with a good threshold for drought tolerance. It can thrive for two weeks without water. Unlike growing rice in paddy fields, precision drip irrigation method is used to grow Temasek Rice in a Vertical High Tech Farm.
This pilot project supports Singapore’s 30 by 30 goal to supply 30% of the nation’s nutritional needs locally by 2030. With the latest technology in farm sustainability and the use of alternative spaces for food production (such as unutilised vertical spaces in HDB estates), Netatech aims to achieve capabilities to commercially produce more of the community’s nutritional needs locally.
The launch event was attended by Members of Parliament (MPs) for Tampines GRC: Mr Masagos Zulkifli, the Minister for Social and Family Development, Second Minister for Health and Minister-in-charge of Muslim Affairs; Dr Koh Poh Koon, Senior Minister of State, Ministries of Health and Manpower; Mr Desmond Choo, Mayor of North East District; Mr Baey Yam Keng, Senior Parliamentary Secretary, Ministry of Transport; and Ms Cheng Li Hui, Chairman of Tampines Town Council.
The MPs for Tampines GRC were joined by Mr Lim Hock Chuan, Chief Executive, Temasek Foundation Liveability, in a symbolic rice harvesting ceremony to mark this milestone in modern urban farming. During the ceremony, the MPs and the guests threshed the rice by hand to recover the rice grains from the stalk to signify a bountiful year ahead. The rice being threshed was first initiated in TLL greenhouse, then transferred and transplanted in October 2021 to the vertical farm at Tampines Block 146. Previously, TLL conducted trials and optimised technologies to grow rice at an experimental vertical farming structure in Lim Chu Kang. The guests also viewed the vertical farm where other leafy vegetables were being cultivated.
TLL continues to research and optimise crop improvements for nutritious fruits and vegetables to potentiate in urban farm settings. Netatech will also be exploring establishing four new high tech vertical farms in Tampines.
Ms Cheng Li Hui, Chairman of Tampines Town Council commented, “Singapore is heavily reliant on food imports and faces the risk of supply disruptions. With modern technologies in urban farming, residents can look forward to fresh home-grown vegetables that are produced in the community, for the community. For many years, Tampines has committed itself to being a “living laboratory” for the latest technologies and solutions in sustainable developments. I am heartened to see the progress we have made in food sustainability, as this will help strengthen the community’s food resilience.”
Mr Lim Hock Chuan, Chief Executive of Temasek Foundation Liveability, said, “As a champion of sustainability, Temasek Foundation is committed to collaborations which uncover and support ways to substantially improve the resilience of our food systems and food supply chains. We hope that projects such as this will breathe new life into farming and make full use of urban vertical spaces to bring benefits to the community.”
Mr Peter Chia, Chief Executive Officer, Temasek Lifesciences Laboratory and Temasek Life Sciences Accelerator (TLA) said, “I would like to congratulate Temasek Foundation Liveability, Netatech and Tampines Town Council on the successful demonstration of how local innovation in the form of adaptive engineering structures and locally produced seeds can create opportunities in this new landscape of sustainable food systems in Singapore. We are happy to be part of this mission to deliver fresher and more sustainable produce to the community and hope to develop even more varieties with enhanced nutrition for local farms so that everyone in Singapore can benefit from having unique Singapore local produce at a more affordable price.”