In early December this year there has been a been a war of words between Singapore and Malaysia over air space and port waters.
According to the Agri-food and Veterinary Authority (AVA) about 73 per cent of Singapore's eggs are purchased from Malaysia, with around a quarter produced here.
On 16th December 2018, Malaysian Domestic Trade and Consumer Affairs Minister Saifuddin Nasution Ismail said that the country may limit or stop the export of eggs to ensure sufficient supply for its domestic market.
Agriculture and Agro-based Industry Minister Salahuddin Ayub also announced on 17th December that the Malaysian government will prohibit the export of four species of wild-caught fish and shrimp to meet the shortage in the market during the monsoon and festive seasons.
According to Bernama News, Minister Salahuddin Ayub. said that "kembung" (mackerel), "selar" (trevally), "pelaling" (Indian mackerel) and "bawal" (pomfret) fish, as well as shrimp, will be prohibited from export from Jan 1 to Feb 28, 2019.
Many Singaporeans enjoy eating eggs and seafood – and you will often see our citizens heading down to Johore to tuck in on their delicious seafood dishes. With the Lunar New Year in Mid-February 2019, people celebrating this colorful festival will be disappointed that their favourite seafood dishes will not be made available during the reunion dinner.
The UK produces less than 60% of the food it eats. Although agricultural activity occurs in most rural locations, it is concentrated in East Anglia (crops) and the South West (livestock).
In anticipation of other food supplies that may be halted such as fresh vegetables and fruits, Singapore has to plan well ahead to meet our local consumption.
Singapore consists of 63 islands, including the main island, Pulau Ujong. There are two man-made connections to Johor, Malaysia: The Woodlands 1st Link in the north and the Tuas 2nd Link in the west. Jurong Island, Pulau Tekong, Pulau Ubin and Sentosa are the largest of Singapore's smaller islands.
With some effort, I am confident that the AVA and the National Environment Agency (NEA) can collaborate to develop our very own farms on some of these islands to produce pork, eggs, vegetables and seafood for local consumption. Sheng Siong and NTUC Fairprice can be invited to tender for the project. Students can be taught agriculture in schools and if the collaborations are successful many Singaporeans, young and old can find jobs in this industry.
In addition, the cost of living can be significantly reduced as local produced goods are much cheaper than imported ones.
Another plus: Singapore can export these home-grown products to other countries and with good marketing plans put in place by the Singapore Tourism Board, our economy will be boosted.
Raymond Anthony Fernando