We are a city state, with a tiny agricultural sector. But we have some agricultural expertise, and where appropriate, we have through AVA shared it with our ASEAN neighbours.
Last month, SPS Dr Maliki was in Laos to attend an ASEAN Meeting. He took the opportunity to visit the Napho Lao-Singapore Fish Hatchery in Vientiane. The hatchery was set up in 2002 with technical assistance and funding from Singapore. This year is its 10th anniversary.
Through this project, we helped Laos set up a fish hatchery, enabling them to use appropriate technology and local materials to produce fish fry for local farming. It has boosted the income of the local farmers, while providing much needed animal protein to the local population.
The hatchery has come a long way. Its annual production of fish fry has crossed four million, far surpassing the initial target of one million.
Interestingly, the tilapia fish bred there is synonymous with Singapore. It has become so popular in Laos that ordering the “Singapore fish” at local restaurants there will get one the tilapia fish!
Although the hatchery is doing well, the farmers have requested for our assistance to improve its operations even further. With MFA’s funding under the Singapore Cooperation Programme, AVA will conduct a training course in modern tilapia culture and post-harvest technology for the Lao-Singapore Food Fish Hatchery in the coming months. The training will include more advanced topics such as good aquaculture practices, fish health management and proper post-harvest handling.
Besides helping to set up the hatchery facilities, AVA officers had over the years also conducted training sessions and demonstrations to the Lao officers and farmers on the various hatchery operations such as fry production, feed preparation and broodstock selection.
While we are not an agricultural nation, we have nevertheless used our expertise and R&D knowledge to help our neighbours boost their agriculture produce. Besides strengthening regional ties, we also get to diversify our food sources to meet our consumption needs.
Indeed, SMS Lee Yi Shyan led a delegation of AVA experts and our businessmen to Myanmar last week. They met up with the relevant Ministers and other Government officials who have asked Singapore to help raise the productivity of their agricultural sector. They were particularly keen to have us help them in post-harvest technology and logistics. They also welcome more purchases from them. This suits us fine as we are always on the lookout for more opportunities to further increasing food import from Myanmar. This is win-win.