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Singapore farm industry gets new guide on regulatory landscape

LOCAL companies can now get clarity on how to navigate regulatory requirements to set up farms, by referring to an industry guide launched by Enterprise Singapore (ESG) and the Singapore Food Agency (SFA).

The guide consolidates information for the farming industry into a single resource, with the aim to catalyse the development of a vibrant agri-food tech sector.

It is available online via the ESG and SFA websites, and was developed in consultation with industry players including the Singapore Agro-Food Enterprises Federation (SAFEF).

The guide is part of efforts by the government's Regulations Workgroup (RWG), set up by ESG and SFA last year, to review and update regulations that affect farm developments.

It consolidates key information on regulatory approvals - such as fire safety, structural and building safety, and farm licence applications - under the purview of different agencies, and also contains information on document submissions, permits and fees involved.

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"This single point of reference will serve as a checklist for companies as they prepare their farm development plans," said ESG and SFA in a press statement on Friday.

Further, the guide maps out the agencies' approval processes for the setting up of farms, and the typical processing time required.

This will help companies better manage their project timelines, according to the statement.

The industry guide is a practical tool that will help local agriculture players get to market as quickly as possible, said G Jayakrishnan, executive director of ESG's business environment and resource division and RWG co-chair.

"Speed and regulation clarity are critical ingredients for companies to capture opportunities in this exciting emerging growth sector valued at about S$5 trillion globally," he added.

The guide was developed because companies had given feedback about the importance of having clarity on the various regulatory approvals required to set up land-based farms in Singapore, said Melvin Chow, SFA's senior director of food supply resilience division and RWG co-chair.

Helping these companies navigate the regulatory landscape will, in turn, hopefully expedite farm development and accelerate local food production as the country works towards its "30 by 30" goal, Mr Chow noted, referring to Singapore's target of producing 30 per cent of its nutritional needs by 2030.

Like the government agencies, SAFEF had also received feedback from members who won SFA land tenders about the regulatory challenges they faced in setting up their high-tech farms, said SAFEF chairman George Huang.

Soon-to-be farmers will find the tips and recommendations in the guide helpful, added Mr Huang. For instance, companies are encouraged to establish a team of qualified persons including architects and engineers early.

The guide will be updated regularly to reflect any changes to regulatory requirements.

In the past year, the RWG has been assisting companies that won agricultural land tenders with the setting up of their farms.

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