In urban Singapore, the unused roof of a 6-story parking building was transformed into a farm, with dozens of rows of shelves planted with various vegetables.
A worker is picking lettuce. He held the vegetable leaf with one hand, cut off the vegetable root with the other, weighed it, and put it in a packaging bag.
After a while, the carts on the aisle were filled with bags of lettuce. "These lettuces are first transported to cold storage for storage, and then sent to supermarkets and restaurants for sale," the farmer said.
Singapore has a population of nearly 5.5 million, only about 1% of the land is used for agricultural planting, and more than 90% of food depends on imports.
In 2020, the Singapore government began to lease the roofs of some parking lots and transform them into vegetable farms to provide more vegetables to the public. This is part of the Singapore government's plan to increase food production.
In the past two years, nearly 20 similar farms have been set up in Singapore. The farmer's "parking lot farm" is the first farm to win the bid, which can provide 100kg to 400kg of vegetables for surrounding retailers every day.
In addition to parking lot roofs, the roofs of many high-rise buildings in Singapore have also been transformed into farms. In 2013, a shopping center in Singapore built the first rooftop farm that directly supplies restaurants. It covers an area of nearly 600 square meters and can harvest up to 1 ton of vegetables and spices per month.
In recent years, more and more shopping malls have transformed their rooftops into farms. Thai landscape architect Gochakorn Vodacom commented that Singapore has the highest population density in the world. Utilizing idle spaces such as roofs and turning them into farms will not only help increase agricultural production but also play a role in greening.
Many buildings have "green areas" where fruits and vegetables grow. Located in the central business district of Singapore, Kingcare Center is a 51-story office building with a height of 280 meters. On the 17th to 20th floors of the building, there is a distinctive vertical farm, each of which is 9 meters high and 3 meters wide, with 40 layers of vegetable planting racks arranged on it.
Each three-dimensional frame can plant more than 1920 vegetables at the same time. These three-dimensional racks rotate once every 8 hours to ensure that each layer of vegetables can enjoy the light.
A professor from Nanyang Technological University in Singapore said that the construction of such farms in Singapore is one of the efforts to ensure food security.
In addition to taking subsidy measures, the government should encourage and support these farms to adopt advanced agricultural technology to harvest higher yields with less space and land.
At present, there are about 240 urban farms in Singapore, which can meet about 10% of the country's annual food supply. The Singapore government plans to increase the proportion of local agricultural products to 30% by 2030.
Ackert, a scholar at the Lee Kuan Yew School of Public Policy at the National University of Singapore, believes that high operating costs are the main challenge facing the development of urban farms in Singapore, and farm operations still rely on government subsidies.
In the future, Singapore should continue to work hard on agricultural technology, continue to promote the development of urban farms, and make various types of farms more commercially viable.
Urban vertical farms will create very large ecological benefits for the surrounding area and even the entire planet.
Vertical farms eliminate the need for pesticides and synthetic fertilizers, and no pollutants are injected into waterways. Vertical farms will efficiently produce food and vegetables. Irrigation water may come from treated rainwater, and water recycling can go a long way toward alleviating the water crisis.
Since vertical farms are located in urban centers, transportation, and associated environmental impacts are eliminated. Indoor cultivation will not be affected by natural disasters such as floods, droughts, and hurricanes. Green tech jobs will be for growers, researchers, technicians, suppliers, and more.