An industry team led by ag-tech specialist Liberty Produce has won Innovate UK funding to develop innovative hybrid farming and greenhouse technologies to work towards Singapore’s food security and net-zero goals.
The award will see Liberty Produce jointly lead the Hybrid Advanced Research Vertical Farming Environment Systems and Technology (HARVEST) consortium with Singapore-based LivFresh, a high-precision controlled environment (HPCE) company. The UK’s James Hutton Institute and Republic Polytechnic Singapore (RP) are research partners.
The Singapore government has initiated a number of strategic policy initiatives with the goal of increasing self-production of its fresh produce by 30 per cent by 2030 via investment in high-tech farms, among other measures. Currently, Singapore imports over 90 per cent of its food supplies from foreign countries, putting it at disproportionate risk to fluctuations in global food supplies and prices, as evidenced by the disruption to food chains across national borders during the Covid-19 pandemic.
The HARVEST team will apply and refine hybrid farming techniques developed in the UK, with funding from UKRI, to support Singapore’s national strategy. This is Liberty Produce’s first stage milestone towards net-zero food production.
Liberty Produce will transfer skills and knowhow developed at its Totally Controlled Environment Agriculture (TCEA) R&D system based at the James Hutton Institute in Dundee. Its Liberator farming system will be installed at the LivFresh site in Singapore where it will be integrated with existing advanced greenhouse technology. The team will run trials and investigate different aspects of how combined-system growing can provide optimum efficiency and higher nutrient density for crops needed by the Singaporean market. At the end of the two-year project, the team plans to roll out a scalable, turn-key product that enables increased Singaporean domestic crop production.
“We are delighted to receive international recognition for our hybrid farming technology and to be given the opportunity to contribute to Singapore’s net-zero and food security goals”, said Dr Dylan Banks, co-founder of Liberty Produce. “We look forward to collaborating in Singapore to the benefit of their national production capabilities.”
British High Commissioner to Singapore, Kara Owen, added: “This is a great example of Singapore and UK collaborating to advance shared goals of our countries in an area of increasing importance – sustainable and secure food production. As Singapore works to increase capabilities in in-country production of fresh food, we are delighted to be partners through exchanging skills and knowhow: the result should be a scalable solution in high-tech vertical farming to address our future food security needs.”