In the early years, agriculture provided an important source of income for Singaporeans. By 1970, about 175,400 people (9% of the total population)1 were actively engaged in agricultural activities, or were indirectly dependent on farming and fishing for a living. Their traditional methods of farming or harvesting were inefficient and laborious. Before AVA was formed, the Primary Production Department (PPD)2 had been providing farmers around the island with extension services, training, and various assistance schemes. Our research and development (R&D) in areas such as production methods, animal nutrition, and disease control also benefitted farmers.
With growing population, urbanisation, and industrialisation, the industry restructured from subsistence to intensive mode of farming. The cultivation of rubber and fruit trees, tobacco, and fodder grass, along with poultry, pig, goat, and cattle farms, gradually made way for the focused production of key food items – vegetable, fish, and egg. In the 1980s and 1990s, Agrotechnology Parks were developed to house modern and productive commercial farms that produce a measure of safe and fresh food.
Into the 21st century, our agricultural landscape is vastly transformed. Innovation, technology, and automation are adopted by farmers to increase yields. With lesser farmland available, more than 90 percent of the food we eat is imported. In the event that overseas food supplies become unstable, it pays to have a level of self-sufficiency to tide us over the shortage. There continues to be a need to strike a balance between demands for limited land and sea space, so farms need to constantly upgrade themselves and raise productivity.
In 2000, AVA assumed PPD’s mandate to ensure food supply resilience, food safety, animal health and welfare, and plant health. We continue to build firm and effective partnerships with farmers to promote local production. This includes conducting R&D on breeding, nutrition, disease control, production systems, and post-harvest technology. These technologies are transferred to farmers, who also receive technical assistance and funding support from AVA. We also encourage them to adopt Good Agricultural Practices that are aligned with internationally recognised standards.
In this special photo story, AVA Vision brings you a glimpse of how technology has helped to transform the farming of eggs, vegetables, and fish in Singapore over 50 years. For a more comprehensive showcase of PPD and AVA's heritage, download a free copy of the e-book Celebrating AVA's Excellence through the Years.
“The world can learn from Singapore’s success stories. Singapore has made efforts particularly, to maximise productivity from very limited land resources. Commercial indoor and rooftop vegetable farms are opening and other urban and peri-urban agricultural initiatives are taking shape.”
Dr Graziano da Silva,
Director-General, Food and Agriculture
Organisation of the United Nations, 2014