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The Singaporean government has pledged US$50.4mn to aid farmers in transforming their farms and nurseries into high-tech, productive plots
Dr Mohamad Maliki Osman, minister of state for national development and defence, announced the new policy recently.
The new agriculture productivity fund (APF) is meant to spur farmers to boost their yields and raise productivity, said the Ministry of National Development (MND) in a press release.
Of the US$50.4mn, US$42.4mn will be used for farm capability development to support productivity improvements in the farming sector. The remaining million has been earmarked for farms to carry out research and development (R&D) in innovative production technologies, it stated.
MND, however, said that farms and landscape nurseries will have to meet the following new conditions:
• Use at least 90 per cent of the land for farm production or landscape nursery purposes, while the remaining 10 per cent may be used for ancillary purposes.
• Agri-Food and Veterinary Authority’s (AVA) farms must meet minimum production levels to qualify for new leases or lease extensions. Landscape nurseries must meet minimum productivity targets and be registered under National Parks Board’s (NParks) Landscape Company Register and Nursery Accreditation Scheme.
• These conditions will be applicable to new farm sites to be tendered out by the AVA, lease extensions for existing farmland, and landscape nurseries managed by NParks, said MND.
The Ministry said, “For the farms, AVA will tender new farm sites with a 10-year tenure, and offer existing sites a lease extension of 10 years if they are not required for any future development.
These leases can be extended for another 10 years provided the farms meet the minimum production levels and other prevailing criteria, and if there are no redevelopment plans.”
It added that operators will not have to worry about infrastructure costs as NParks will provide connections to utilities such as potable water, electricity and telecommunications cables, sewage pipes and roadways.