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AGRIBUSINESS | Staff Reporter, Singapore
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Local farmers get $63m boost from new Agriculture Productivity Fund

It aims to create a high-tech and innovative sector.

The Ministry of National Development (MND) yesterday unveiled a new $63 million Agriculture Productivity Fund (APF) to help local farmers boost their yields and raise productivity.

It aims to develop local farms and landscape nurseries to create a high-tech and innovative sector that makes efficient use of land and labour resources.

According to Dr Mohamad Maliki bin Osman, Minister of State for National Development and Defence, “Over the past few months, I have been visiting some of our farms to better understand their operations and concerns. These understandably focus on the cost of technology, land tenures, shortage of manpower, and business continuity. We have thus worked with AVA, NParks, URA and SLA on these new measures to address the concerns, with the overall aim of productivity improvements to benefit the farms.”

Here’s more from the MND:
The APF consists of: (a) $53 million for farm capability development to support productivity improvements in the farming sector; and (b) $10 million to support farms in carrying out R&D in innovative production technologies.

With this APF, AVA will provide funding support to our local farmers to expand their production capabilities and invest in transformational farming systems, equipment and infrastructure.

Similarly, landscape nurseries can tap on the existing $3.9 million Landscape Productivity Grant (LPG) administered by NParks. The LPG, which was launched in September 2013, serves to co-fund nurseries’ investments in machinery and technology, and is part of the broader initiative to raise productivity of the landscape industry.

Given these productivity initiatives, and the need to intensify the use of limited land, farms and landscape nurseries will have to meet the following new conditions:

a. To use at least 90% of the land for farm production or landscape nursery purposes, while the remaining 10% may be used for ancillary purposes.

b. AVA’s farms must meet minimum production levels to qualify for new leases or lease extensions. Landscape nurseries must meet minimum productivity targets and be registered under NParks’ Landscape Company Register (LCR) and Nursery Accreditation Scheme (NAS).

These conditions will be applicable to new farm sites to be tendered out by AVA, lease extensions for existing farmland, and landscape nurseries managed by NParks.

AVA and NParks will provide greater certainty to the farmers with a sufficient payback period to recoup productivity investments. For the farms, AVA will tender new farm sites with a 10-year tenure, and offer existing sites a lease extension of 10 years if they are not required for any future development.

These leases can be extended for another 10 years provided the farms meet the minimum production levels and other prevailing criteria, and if there are no redevelopment plans. For landscape nurseries, NParks will tender sites on a 3+3+3 year tenancy basis.

This stems from the nurseries’ different nature of operations which require lower upfront investment on infrastructure, with a shorter payback period.
 

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