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NEWS UPDATES 7 July 2010

Singapore food supply strengthens

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Singapore has strengthened its food supply with its only deep-sea net-cage farm.

Located off Pulau Semakau, Barramundi Asia, Singapore's biggest commercial fish farm, is about a half-an-hour boat ride from the city.

The farm enjoyed its first harvest last October, and now produces 500 tonnes of barramundi, also known as Asian sea bass, according to Channel News Asia.

One of the secrets of its success lies in the water.

Joep Kleine Staarman, managing director, Barramundi Asia Farm & Nursery, says: "Fish farming in Southeast Asia is mainly done in Indonesia and Malaysia. But Singapore actually has very good water quality. Having a fish farm so close to Singapore brings the fish very fresh to the market."

Singapore is a safe haven for fish farming as it isn't prone to natural disasters like typhoons or tsunamis.

And with help from Agri-Food and Veterinary Authority, AVA, Barramundi Asia aims to further boost its output by six-fold within a few years.

Mr. Staarman says: "Next year 2011, it'll be 1000. And we'll go on to 2012-2013 to 2000 tonnes. And we want to grow to 3,000 tonnes."

The farm's ultimate ambition is to account for more than 80 percent of local food fish production.

As part of AVA's efforts to make Singapore's food supply more sustainable, there are now more than 100 licensed floating fish farms in the country's coastal waters.

Tan Poh Hong, CEO, Agri-Food & Veterinary Authority of Singapore, says: "There's a selective breeding programme which was started about five years ago, where we look for the best breeds, the blue stocks, and these are able to grow much faster at 15 per cent. We are looking right now into selecting breeds that can grow faster, even up to 30 percent, so when you can grow faster, you can have better productivity."

Currently, Singapore's main sources of food fish are neighbouring countries like Malaysia and Indonesia.

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