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Wednesday, November 29, 2023
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More land and sea spaces with longer leases to be tendered out for farming to bolster Singapore’s food security

SINGAPORE (CNA) – The government will tender out more land, as well as sea spaces in the Southern Waters and East Johor Straits, with longer leases, announced the Singapore Food Agency (SFA) yesterday.

The new tenders, which will be progressively launched from end-2022, aims to provide more certainty for businesses and help with long-term planning and investment as they will be given the option to extend their lease for another 10 years after their 20-year lease is up.

The move to unlock more farming spaces with longer leases comes as Singapore looks to produce 30 per cent of its nutritional needs locally by 2030 in order to beef up its food security.

The country currently imports more than 90 per cent of its food but in recent years, local production of fish, vegetables and eggs has been creeping up, with the help of grants to boost productivity and defray upfront costs.

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SFA also announced that the SGD60 million Agri-Food Cluster Transformation fund, which supports local farmers in their efforts to expand production capability, will be enhanced to offer a higher co-funding quantum for a wider range of food types commonly consumed by the population. This will include more types of vegetables, mushrooms and shrimp.

Currently, coastal fish farms have to apply and renew their SFA-fish culture farm licence annually, but do not have to pay for the use of sea space.

As part of the transition to leases, existing coastal fish farms will see temporary occupation licences being introduced from January 1 next year.

Under the temporary occupation licence scheme, those in the Straits of Johor and Southern Waters will have to pay SGD3,600 and SGD6,000 per half hectare respectively.

The temporary occupation licence amount will be phased in over four years, starting with 20 per cent in the first two years and 50 per cent in the third year, before reaching the full amount in 2026.

However, in line with the government’s commitment to not increase fees and charges for the year, SFA said the amount will be waived for 2023.

SFA also said it has reviewed the fish farm licence fees to ensure that it remains relevant and to minimise compliance costs for the industry.

From January 1 next year, most sea-based farmers will see a “substantial” reduction in their annual licence fees to SGD145 per licence. It is currently SGD850 per half hectare.

New farm applications and farms with major changes to their farming activities will be subjected to a one-off assessment fee, said SFA.


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