Did you know that even in land scarce Singapore, there are more than 50 vegetable farms producing mainly leafy vegetables. And more than 80% of the leafy vegetables produced are derived from soil cultivation under protective netting which protects the vegetables underneath.
There are 6 agro-technology parks in Singapore, located in Lim Chu Kang, Murai, Sungei Tengah, Mandai, Nee Soon and Loyang. There are 230 farms in the agrotechnology parks. Of these 230 farms, 55 are vegetable farms. The first vegetable farm in the agro-technology parks started in 1987.
Most of the vegetable farms here practice soil cultivation using rain shelters or netted structures. Besides soil cultivation there is one aeroponic vegetable farm and 3 hydroponic vegetable farms.
What is the difference between rain shelters and netted structures to farmers? The rain shelters: shield the vegetables from rain drops which can cause damage to the leaves, while the netted structure protect the vegetables from insects and pests, resulting in higher productivity and safer vegetables because of the use of less pesticides. The farms grow mainly leafy vegetables e.g. bayam, chai sim, xiao bai cai, which are sold for local consumption.
What about the productivity of the farms? In the 1980s, the vegetables farms produced about 40 tonnes of vegetables per ha. Now, some of the vegetable farms have achieved productivity levels of more than 100 tonnes per ha. In 2003, the vegetable farms produced about 16,000 tonnes of vegetables valued at about S$14 million, of which about 7,500 tonnes were leafy vegetables valued at about S$8 million.