Food Systems in SingaporeSingapore is a nation known for its breathtaking sights and bustling city life. It is considered to be a high-income country with one of the world’s highest-ranking economies. As of 2017, its gross national income was $54,530 per capita. While poverty may not be the first thing to come to mind when thinking of the small island nation, it remains a social challenge of high importance. Although there is no official poverty line, it has been found that 10% of family homes earn as little as $1,323 a month. In the face of this, innovative food systems in Singapore are helping the poor by granting access to more affordable, locally grown food, as well as a growing new industry for jobs.

Food Security Through Innovation

With limited land for agriculture, Singapore has historically relied on imports, with more than 90% of food coming from various outside sources. However, such a system leaves the country highly vulnerable to disruptions in the supply chain, leading the government to seek alternative solutions that not only secure the nation’s food supply but also greatly benefit the poor.

Some of the newly instituted food systems in Singapore include a vertical growth system, allowing for maximized use of resources within a controlled environment. Another example is the 30 x 30 goal, which aims to produce 30% of food locally by the year 2030. The government is leaving no stone unturned in attempting to fulfill this initiative, investing in cutting-edge technologies like hydroponics and aeroponics that work to optimize production.

Poverty Alleviation and the Job Industry

Ultimately, these food systems in Singapore are working toward the global goal of alleviating poverty. In the case of a supply chain disruption, the poor would likely be affected the most. The Food Bank Singapore found that 10.4% of surveyed households had experienced food insecurity in a 12-month period between 2018 and 2019. By securing the country’s food supply, the government ensures that those in poverty can feel safer knowing that food will continue to be accessible at all times and as affordable as possible.

Low-income individuals can gain skills and knowledge by participating in the urban farming industry and related sectors. For those struggling with poverty, being part of a farming project can provide a sense of purpose, skill development and access to healthy food. Not only can the food initiative provide a wealth of jobs for those who need them most, but it also plants the seeds for a pathway out of poverty through hard work and determination.

Education plays a vital role in sustainable food practices and poverty reduction. Singapore has embraced this by implementing educational programs that raise awareness about nutrition, waste reduction and responsible consumption. By equipping residents with knowledge about healthy food choices and reducing food waste, these programs contribute to healthier and more economically stable communities.

Looking Ahead

By developing sustainable farming initiatives and new food systems in Singapore, the government is creating a sense of social engagement and empowerment for marginalized communities and individuals. Despite its relatively low levels of poverty to start with, Singapore takes the issue seriously, providing an example for the rest of the world — by working to end poverty, it takes another crucial step in the path toward becoming a truly inclusive and equitable society.

– Namit Agrawal
Photo: Unsplash

Singapore Is Eliminating PovertySingapore is a city-state in Southeast Asia, where it remains the only one in the region to have recognition as a developed country. It has a high GDP per capita and ranks high on the human development index (HDI). Despite these facts, at least 10% of households in Singapore are low-income and thus in poverty. Here is how Singapore is eliminating poverty.

Singapore’s History

The “little red dot” has always been an entrepôt for different cultures. From the ancient Malay kingdom of Srivijaya to the British Straight Colony, it was not until the 20th century that modern Singapore emerged.

Following the British departure from the region in 1963, Singapore, alongside Malaya, Sabah and Sarawak, established the country of Malaysia, and it did not take long for Malaysia to grow uncomfortable with Singapore’s presence in the federation.

Singapore has a vast Chinese population, where 77% of its population identified as such in the 70s. This resulted in the Parliament of Malaysia expelling Singapore from the federation as a result of ethnic tensions and deep political differences between the ruling parties of Singapore and Malaysia.

Singapore’s Economy

Leading up to its independence, Singapore’s leaders became increasingly concerned over their economy as the country lacked sufficient land to carry out agricultural and developmental activities.

The tiny island nation then depended on international trade where it received imported goods, and then processed and re-exported them to other countries. This has made the Port of Singapore the busiest port in the world in terms of shipping tonnage, with an average of 140,000 vessels linking Singapore to more than 600 ports around the world.

With such fundamental industrialization, Singapore has managed to position itself as a global trade center that focuses on modern skilled tech-centered labor that lapsed traditional manufacturing. This resulted in Singapore’s high GDP which, in 2022, stood at $466.79 billion and a per capita GDP of $82,807.

Poverty in Singapore

Singapore’s success does not reflect on everyone in the country. For instance, Nurhaida Jantan, an unemployed single mother with six children has to live in a tiny flat, just 30 square meters, with little to no finishing.

As explained in an interview with the BBC, the children share a single bedroom with only mattresses and blankets as their bedding. Nurhaida on the other hand, sleeps on the sofa and receives weekly donations from charities. She explains she cannot afford anyone being sick in the house as their finances are too tight.

How Singapore is Eliminating Poverty

Singapore’s major effort to eradicate poverty has been on its agenda since its independence and has always been improving. On March 2, 2022, Mr. Leon Perera of Aljunied GRC spoke to Parliament to submit several proposals to alleviate poverty where he suggested an increase in accessibility of state assistance schemes to those who needed it. He also recommended the increase of financial relief based on beneficiaries to ensure the attendance of those children in poverty to be at school.

Besides the legislative, the Singaporean Government has also taken measures to combat poverty. In particular, it adopted three policy focuses: education, work and family relationships. The Government has emphasized that education should be subsidized for low-income households. In addition, schemes are made available through the Workforce Development Authority such as Skills Future credit to provide mechanisms to enable and facilitate access to opportunities.

Looking Ahead

While most Singaporeans enjoy better living conditions compared to many other countries, there are still instances of neglect that persist. Nevertheless, Singapore is actively addressing poverty and effecting positive change.

– Kent Anderson
Photo: Flickr