S’pore to develop ‘food zone’ in Jilin

SFI project will breed pigs, process and export pork

SINGAPORE is beefing up efforts to ensure its food security for the long term, with discussions underway to see how to best develop a ‘food zone’ in Jilin province in China.

Sharing these plans with Singapore reporters yesterday, Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong said that the aim was to build an integrated facility in Jilin city, located in the north-eastern part of China. There, pigs would be bred and farmed, with the pork eventually processed and then exported.

‘This is a commercial project between our Singapore Food Industries (SFI) and the Jilin city government, and we have just signed a MOU (memorandum of understanding),’ said Mr Lee, who is in Beijing to attend the two-day Asia-Europe Meeting which begins today.

This first-of-its-kind project for Singapore came up during bilateral discussions that Mr Lee held with Chinese leaders yesterday, just after he witnessed the signing of the China-Singapore free trade agreement (FTA).

‘As (Chinese Premier) Wen Jiabao said to me, we can develop this and make it successful. Both countries can cooperate on issues of quality and safety in food,’ said Mr Lee.

National Development Minister Mah Bow Tan, who is also in Beijing as part of Mr Lee’s delegation, said that the go-ahead for the project would depend on the results of a joint feasibility study that is expected to be completed in the next six to 12 months.

‘In the long term, our goal is to provide a supply of food not just for the local consumption, but also for export to Singapore, in line with our overall objective of ensuring food security,’ said Mr Mah.

If successful, the Jilin food zone, in the initial phase alone where it would occupy five to 10 square km of land, could supply up to 10 per cent of Singapore’s total pork demand, said Mr Mah.

SFI is a government-linked company. The food zone project will be driven by the private sector, with SFI likely to rope in several partners to form a consortium. The Agri-food and Veterinary Authority (AVA) will take on the role of food safety regulator.

While a pig farm is the most ideal way to kick things off, the food zone could well expand to include chicken farming and other products in the longer run.

‘Currently, Singapore is buying food from many countries and diversifying its resources to ensure a steady stream of food coming in. Of late, the government has been studying this strategy to see how to build on this and go upstream and get involved in the production of food,’ said Mr Mah.

‘This food zone project fits in very nicely with that strategy,’ he added. ‘It can be one of the major suppliers of pork in Singapore, and help significantly in our food resilience.’

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