Vertical Farming in SingaporeVertical farming, an innovative approach to agriculture, is offering new hope for food security in Singapore. The city-state, with limited land for traditional agriculture, has embraced the concept of growing crops vertically within controlled environments. As the global demand for sustainable food sources rises, vertical farming in Singapore is a typical example of how cities can feed their populations without relying heavily on imports.

Ambitious Local Goals

In 2019, the Singaporean government, through the Singapore Food Authority (SFA), set a target to produce 30% of its nutritional needs locally by 2030, a significant increase from the less than 10% produced locally at the time the goal was set. This initiative, named “30 by 30,” pushed local enterprises to think creatively about urban farming solutions. Vertical farming quickly became a frontrunner in the quest to meet these targets. 

Sky Greens’ Innovations

One of the leading companies in this space is Sky Greens. Established in 2012, Sky Greens created the world’s first low-carbon hydraulic water-driven vertical farming system. This marked a significant stride in utilizing green urban solutions to enhance food supply security in Singapore. 

The vertical farming system is a tall A-frame structure with rotating shelves, which allows plants to receive uniform sunlight. This system uses just 0.5 liters of water to rotate a 1.7-ton vertical structure, with the water being recycled and reused within an enclosed underground reservoir system. The structures use gravity to rotate the rows of plants, ensuring equal distribution of nutrients and sunlight to each row. These towers are highly productive, producing ten times the yield compared to traditional soil-based farms covering the same area. Since its inception, Sky Greens has played a crucial role in Singapore’s urban farming scene, contributing to the local food supply and providing a model for sustainable agriculture in urban settings.

ComCrop’s Rooftop Farming and Aquaponics

Founded in 2011, ComCrop, another leading example in this sector, operates Singapore’s largest rooftop farm. ComCrop’s farm has 6,000 square feet on the rooftop of Scape, along Orchard Road. They also launched a new 36,000-square-foot rooftop farm complex in Woodlands in October 2018. 

The farm grows a variety of crops using advanced hydroponic technology which enables them to grow produce using less resources while achieving a greater harvest. This technology also uses 90% less water compared to traditional farming. ComCrop’s innovative system produces 150 kg of vegetables monthly and has the capacity to produce over 25,000 kg of produce in the first full year of production at their new farm complex in Woodland.

ComCrop directly supplies its produce to various food and beverage outlets within the vicinity of Scape, ensuring fresh delivery on the same day they are harvested. They emphasize sustainable farming practices and aim to reduce Singapore’s dependence on imported vegetables, and in doing so, they contribute to local food security.

Governmental Support and Global Implications

Singapore’s vertical farming success has been further bolstered by governmental support. The Singapore Food Agency (SFA) has been actively encouraging local enterprises to venture into high-tech farming through grants and funding. These incentives, combined with private sector creativity, have put Singapore at the forefront of urban farming globally.

Yet, vertical farming is more than just a technological spectacle, it is a testament to Singapore’s resilience and forward-thinking. As the climate crisis intensifies and land becomes more scarce, innovative solutions like vertical farming will be critical in addressing global food security concerns.

For countries or cities with limited agricultural spaces, Singapore’s story provides a beacon of hope and a blueprint to follow. By integrating technology with agriculture and combining private initiative with governmental support, it is evident that cities can indeed become self-reliant in food production. The future of farming is not just on the ground, it is in the sky too.

– Laeticia Mbangue
Photo: Unsplash

Advancements in Vertical Farming 
Among the biggest issues families in poverty face are the lack of access to nutritional foods and the fatigue that follows extreme hunger. Vertical farming is a modern agricultural advancement that may be able to greatly increase accessibility to healthy, natural food for lower-income families and China is a leading investigator into this new idea. In April 2023, Chinese scientists managed to make one of the biggest advancements in vertical farming. They grew a previously unheard-of yield of cabbages and lettuce — 2,500 — in a single 9 by 5.5-meter tower in Singapore. The tower was in the shape of an “A,” and its yield was about 10 times that of a traditional farm with about 5% of the ground space. 

China’s Vertical Farming Efforts

China is one of the top investors in vertical farming. The farms require high-technology equipment to regulate temperature, making the production of them an expensive endeavor. However, China is confident in its ability to provide food to urban areas and has so far invested in more than 250 farms across the country. The country was even one of the first to officially invest in the farms in 2002, and its popularity has increased steadily since then. 

One of the largest farms set to be made in China is the Jian Mu Tower, which is designed to be 218 meters tall and use 10,000 square meters to grow indoor crops. This amount of space would yield almost 300,000 kilograms of crops each year, meaning it would be able to feed about 40,000 people. This is set to be one of the biggest advancements in vertical farming and many other agricultural practices. The tower is not only intended to be a farm but an experiment center for techniques like solar shading and microclimate control. The production of this building in Shenzhen will set the bar for vertical farms across the globe, alongside being a huge agricultural and architectural advancement. 

The Benefits of Vertical Farming

One of the biggest benefits of vertical farming is that it simply takes up less space and water. Vertical farming is built upward, not outward across acres of land, and thus can yield thousands more crops with only a fraction of the ground space of traditional farming. The farms are also able to eliminate water waste within farming.  

Another huge advantage to vertical farming is that the farms’ yields are not susceptible to bad weather conditions. In traditional farming, entire acres of crops can be wiped out by tornadoes or windstorms, yields can be ruined because the climate is too hot or cold and certain crops can only be grown in season. Indoor vertical farms can grow almost all crops year-round independent of weather conditions. The indoor farms are able to simulate any climate to properly nurture crops and save them from harsh weather conditions that would otherwise wipe them out, yielding high-quality, healthy food consistently and without high waste. 

Finally, plants are also able to grow without bugs eating away at them, meaning agrochemicals that are used to control weeds or repel insects do not need to be used. This benefits both the crops, keeping them natural and unaffected by chemicals, and the environment, through the decreased use of aerosols. 

The Downsides of Vertical Farming

Unfortunately, vertical farms can be very expensive. Many of the benefits that come along with vertical farming are a direct result of the cost of creating vertical farms. The equipment required to simulate outdoor conditions and properly monitor the growth of the crops is high-tech and high-priced, making countries less likely to invest in the farms. 

The Future of Vertical Farming

Traditional farming is high-maintenance, strenuous work, and young people are becoming less interested in traditional farming as a career path. As of 2017, around 60% of farmers were more than 50 years old, and fewer and fewer young people are willing to participate in manual labor as the world becomes more technologically advanced. Vertical farms could grow in popularity because of this, as their controlled environment and smaller-scale individual production make working conditions much more comfortable. 

– Allison Groves
Photo: Flickr

Empowering Singapore's Small-Scale FarmersIn the core of urban Singapore, small-scale farmers encounter unique challenges in their active pursuit of agricultural endeavors. However, a comprehensive and multifaceted approach is surfacing to provide Singapore’s small-scale farmers with sustainable support, enabling their growth and contributing to the city-state’s food security.

Government Initiatives Pave the Way

Singapore’s government acknowledges the importance of local food production in reducing its dependence on imports. To uplift small-scale farming, the government has applied a range of initiatives. According to data from the Ministry of Sustainability and the Environment, over the past three years, $50 million has been allocated to grants and subsidies for small-scale farmers. These specific funds aid in the development of essential infrastructure, including greenhouses and vertical farming systems, which maximize land use efficiency and crop yield.

Community-Supported Agriculture Creates Synergy

One innovative solution that’s picking up steam is the concept of community-supported agriculture (CSA). This model links residents directly with local farmers, permitting them to subscribe to regular deliveries of fresh produce. This arrangement benefits both parties: consumers obtain access to locally grown, organic produce, while farmers get a firm grasp on a stable market and income. Recently, local CSA programs launched a “30 by 30” initiative where the goal would be to locally produce thirty percent of its nutritional desires by the year 2030, indicating an increasing interest among Singaporeans to support small-scale farming.

Technological Advancements Revolutionize Farming

Welcoming and embracing technology has become a key base for empowering small-scale farmers. Vertical farming, which is a practice that requires cultivating crops in vertically stacked layers, has gained popularity for its ability to maximize space utilization. The vertical farming market in Singapore is predicted to grow rapidly in the next three years, as reported by the Singapore Vertical Farming Association. Furthermore, hydroponic and aquaponic systems are increasingly unified into urban farms, decreasing water usage by up to 90% compared to conventional methods.

Education and Training Foster Innovation

A crucial part of empowering Singapore’s small-scale farmers lies in the benefits they’ve received from a heightened emphasis on education and skill development. Specialized courses, workshops and seminars are equipping farmers with the most recent sustainable practices and business strategies. According to the Agri-Food and Veterinary Authority of Singapore, students who are enrolled and have graduated from these programs are taking great strides towards adding talents for farms of the future. Just recently, “20 students from the aquaculture discipline in Temasek Polytechnic and Republic Polytechnic have been placed in internships at 10 local fish farms.” Although this is just the beginning, the knowledge transfer empowers Singapore’s small-scale farmers to optimize their operations and adapt to the evolving landscape of modern agriculture.

Creating a Robust Market Ecosystem

Supporting small-scale farmers demands generating a thriving market ecosystem. Local restaurants, markets and supermarkets are realizing the value of sourcing from nearby producers. Not only does this ensure a steady demand for farmers’ products but also reduces carbon emissions associated with long-distance transportation.

A Holistic Approach for a Sustainable Future

With all that being said, the multifaceted approach to empowering Singapore’s small-scale farmers combines government support, community engagement, technological innovation, education and a robust market ecosystem. By cultivating these elements, Singapore is taking massive steps towards achieving stronger and healthier food security and sustainability. As the city-state continues to prioritize these initiatives, it enters the path to creating a resilient agricultural sector that not only supports local farmers but at the same time, contributes to the well-being of its citizens and the environment.

– Nathaniel Scandore
Photo: Flickr

Farmers in AfricaEstimates predict there will be over nine billion people on the planet by 2050. Of that increase in population, half will be born in Africa. In order to feed the world, food production must increase by 70% in that time. Farmers in Africa are looking for ways to adapt.

When investigating this problem of the future, it is interesting to note that nearly three-quarters of farm production happens on a small scale. There is roughly a small-scale farmer that produces a bulk of this food, and many of them are in need of assistance. The agrarian way of life is common, but not very prosperous across Africa. There is already an abundance of demand, but many African farmers are struggling to produce. Digital innovations are spreading and now helping farmers become more efficient. Here are three apps helping farmers in Africa boost their potential.


WeFarm is a networking app, comparable to LinkedIn or Facebook, but designed specifically for African farmers. A majority of their customer base is in Kenya and Uganda with over a million members in the two countries.

WeFarm helps to disseminate information among farmers. It gives a platform for farmers to connect and crowdsource solutions form their peers. By creating an ecosystem for these farmers to communicate and share best practices, farms will grow to be more efficient.

Many people living in more remote regions of Africa do not have adequate internet access. WeFarm can be used to communicate without internet access. The app facilitates communication across SMS which is much more prevalent than internet access in rural areas for some African countries, so more farmers can get plugged into the conversation.


CowTribe is an award-winning app and a boon for livestock farmers in Africa, particularly in Botswana where cattle account for 85% of agriculture.

This app helps owners take care of their animals’ health very effectively. The app monitors health record, reminds about due vaccinations, connect farmers with vaccinations, and can connect farmers with veterinary assistance. With CowTribe, every $1 spent on vaccination leads to $29 of revenue per year.

As of now, the app keeps track of 240,000 cows belonging to 29,000 different farmers. There are millions of farmers who can benefit from this app, and the membership rate is anticipated to grow 40% year over year.


Modisar is another prize-winning app that has brought a new level of sophistication to its farmers in Botswana. The app requires a computer or laptop but can run without an internet connection, which is again very useful for remote, rural regions. Modisar is a platform that helps a farmer understand and better manage their farm. It maintains farm records, keeps track of inventory and livestock, and sends reminders for tasks that need completion. One of the greatest features Modisar offers is an expense and profit tracker. This allows farmers to see their financial history and can educate them on how to increase profits in the future.

Modisar also maintains a library of articles relating to best farming practices, so that farmers have other resources to troubleshoot and further educate themselves. The database also has a photo gallery of different diseases, that a farmer may consult when an unknown infection springs up in the crop. Modisar won the Orange Social Venture Prize in 2014 and has continued helping farmers since.

There is a menagerie of apps helping farmers in Africa with new ones releasing every year. There are seemingly many identical apps in the growing library of farm assistants, but many operate in different regions and have their own unique following. Agriculture, one of the oldest human endeavors, coupled with digital technology growing many small farmers in African countries.

– Brett Muni
Photo: Pxhere

Food Security and Innovation ProgramAs the world encounters one issue after another, food insecurity increases in countries with inadequate resources or less-than sufficient agriculture systems. With the pandemic at the helm and climate change an ongoing phenomenon, to survive these stressful times, innovative strategies are necessary. In this advanced society, new ways are necessary to process, distribute and reshape food production. Connections between food security and innovation seem far-fetched, but the United Arab Emirates/UAE’s food security and innovation program has found state-of-the-art techniques that relieve their people of this struggle.

Key Constraints Facing Food Security

The UAE aims to rank in the top 10 in the Global Food Security Index by 2021, and number one by 2051. In this arid region, however, traditional farming is next to impossible from limited water for irrigation and an unequal ratio between people and the UAE’s production. Due to these hardships, the country is reliant on its imports. For a food-dependent country, when disaster hits, food systems are unstable.

While there are several reasons for poor food production in the UAE, the scarcity of water contributes heavily. Most of the water in the country is recycle and reused, but this process can only occur for a given amount of time. Given that traditional agriculture utilizes a significant amount of water, UAE’s food security and innovation program is the answer. . To combat the issue of their unstable food system, the UAE has set up the FoodTech Challenge. This global competition seeks out innovative solutions for the country to address food production and distribution.

Vertical Farming: An Innovative Farming Technique

In response to the FoodTech Challenge, the company Smart Acres has provided a technique that utilizes vertical farming to support the UAE’s food security and innovation program. Vertical farming consists of vertically stacked plants, providing more produce per square area, resembling green walls as displayed in shopping centers. Smart Acres used South Korean vertical farming technology to decrease water usage and monitor temperature and nutrients. Regarding the UAE’s water issue, vertical farms save over 90% of the water in comparison to conventional farming methods. The constant flow of water across the plants provides the necessary nutrients for all the plants to grow. This high-tech design allows the company to produce clean crops without any chemicals and negligible interference.

Although the farm has not been implemented yet, this form of food production is expected to produce 12 cycles of crops annually; the farm will expand from Abu Dhabi to the rest of the country gradually. By using vertical farming, this technique expects to produce approximately 8,000 kilograms of lettuce and other leafy greens per cycle. In addition to the increased number of crops, the variety is also expected to increase and include items, such as strawberries, arugula, potatoes, etc.

Aquaculture Farming: Decreasing the Dependence of Imports

On average, the UAE consumes 220,000 tons of fish annually. However, imported food is 90% of the UAE’s diet, suggesting that advancements in the country’s aquaculture would be beneficial. To aid the seafood industry in the UAE, the Sheikh Khalifa Marine Research Center has taken the responsibility to use advanced technology to harvest marine organisms. The center utilizes photo-bioreactors to generate food for juvenile fish.

In addition to manufacturing primary live food for marine organisms, UAE’s food security and innovation program also include water recycling technologies, where water is cycled through fish tanks to reduce water consumption. To make aquaculture a more efficient and sustainable system in the country, the center is establishing a disease diagnostic laboratory, which will reduce the number of disease-related deaths associated with marine life.

While many countries face tumultuous times currently, UAE’s food security and innovation program seems to be a ticket out of poverty. Through the FoodTech Challenge, the country has found multiple viable options to strengthen its food system. With water scarcity, a large problem regarding food production, both vertical and aquaculture farming, has found a way to recycle the limited water and attend to other problems the UAE faces, such as dependence on imports from other countries. The challenge is open to the entire country, increasing the country’s opportunity in establishing a sustainable system. Through these systems, the UAE’s food security and innovation program is well on its way to stabilizing its food security and achieving its goal as a titleholder in the Global Food Security Index.

Aditi Prasad
Photo: Flickr

Vertical Farms
As developing countries slowly modernize, a whole new set of challenges await them. One of those challenges is increased urbanization.

Urbanization is a symptom of modernity that is usually accompanied by a decrease in overall poverty.

As countries implement 21st century medical care and sanitation systems, populations have increased in well-being and life span, which can result in overpopulated cities. As cities become more and more populated, resources will become more scarce. This is especially true for food availability.

Luckily, a new brand of farming is coming to fruition that will help address the problems associated with increased urban populations; it’s called vertical farming.

Vertical farming removes the farms from traditional fields and places them in warehouses several stories high. This allows producers to place farms directly in the cities and away from the drought and disease that normally threatens reliable crop yields. Utilizing hydroponic water systems and LED lighting, the farms provide the ideal environment for plant growth. The LED lights further allow the farmers to dial in the specific spectrum of light ideal to that plant. Fluorescent lights were initially used but proved to be too inefficient.

As LED lights have become more cost effective, they have created the ideal environment for vertical farms. Farmers are even able to program the light to change throughout the day, mimicking the movement and intensity of the actual sun.

The efficiency of LED lights is not where it could be, however. Many farms currently use lights that operate at about 28% efficiency though engineers are developing LEDs that operate at 68% efficiency.

For example, in the Netherlands, engineers at Phillips have successfully created an LED that operates at 150% efficiency.

The beauty of vertical farms is their ability to be greener, more cost efficient and sustainable. Imagine a world where India has vast swaths of its cities dedicated to vertical farming; the amount of relief that could provide to impoverished individuals is staggering.

An example of vertical farming’s potential can be found in Scranton Pennsylvania. Soon, it will have the world’s largest vertical farm composed of a single story building with racks consisting of six levels. The farm will be able to house 17 million plants.

When one considers the challenges urbanization will bring to developing nations, vertical farming presents itself as a panacea.

The U.N. predicts that by the year 2050, there will be 6.25 billion people living in cities. As such, food production will have to increase 70% globally to sustain 2.3 billion people.

The U.N. also predicts that reliance on traditional, “resource-intensive” agricultural products will continue to grow, consisting mainly of livestock and dairy products.

Vertical farms present an opportunity for the world community to truly address hunger. With billions of people expected to occupy world cities in the coming decades, the demand for food will only increase. Vertical farms growing food locally, in a sustainable environment has a chance to provide food for millions who otherwise would go hungry.

– Zachary Lindberg

Sources: BBC, New Scientist, World Bank
Photo: Amazon