I put my hand up last year Dec to lead a team of young farmers (formed mostly by the next generation of our farmers members from the Kranji Countryside Association) in an initiative to connect more young people to our beautiful countryside and farmland.
After months of planning, I’m happy to share that the Singapore Young Farmer (SYF) Team has confirmed the schedule and activities for what we like to call ‘SYF: THE NEXT CHAPTER!’ More information can be found on this link.
I thought I should share about what my involvement at the frog farm has got to do with the SYF.
8 years ago, as a much younger person, being entirely new to this industry, I was introduced to the good work of Kranji Countryside Association. I then volunteered my time as a committee member to tend to the association’s email and to attend their monthly meetings. As a result I got to know the farmers much better and we developed into a close-knit family. The KCA grew in strength and size until in 2007 we became an associate member of Royal Agricultural Society of the Commonwealth. Kenny Eng, the then Vice- president of KCA and myself were sent off to Christchurch, New Zealand, to attend the 25th biennial Agriculture Conference in 2008.
Being the younger member of the committee, I went on to represent KCA as a Next Generation delegate for the next 3 Royal Agricultural Conferences in Edinburgh in 2010, Zambia in 2012 and most recently Brisbane in 2014. It was indeed very strange for a young Singaporean to be represented to in these large scale, very serious, agricultural conferences as C’MON give me a break, what have we got to offer!?!
While I questioned how valid my presence were, I have made so many new friends who are also children of farmers (some are 4th or 5th generations!) and surprisingly, most of us faced similar challenges in planning succession and trying to keep farming relevant and sustainable in this increasingly demanding world. I also learned how many of these societies with advanced farming industries have dedicated teams getting Youth interested and involved in what is in Singapore considered a dying or ‘Sunset’ industry. I wondered why is it in Singapore, which once was the center for Agricultural Excellence in S.E.A., that farming has been relegated to such a lowly status that it is almost invisible to the common man. Farmland gave way to ‘Agrotechnology’ Parks and Farms pushed to operate like factories.
Now that D day is set in mid 2017, our SYF team has decided not to let this flame of Singapore’s countryside be extinguished without a good fight. Thus, we have planned these series of activities for the last quarter of 2015 with an aim to connect as many people as we can possible do to this land!
One minister I have spoken to asked me if I could advocate for other causes “and not a dying one”.Another told me that without the military needing the land for training, farmlands wouldn’t have even remained in Lim Chu Kang in the first place. Despite these remarks, they have not changed our opinion that every country needs a countryside and that it is in this 1% of remaining green land that many farmer families work and toil tirelessly together as one community to bring fresh and safe food with a heart to many of their fellow Singaporeans’ tables.
I urge our government to see beyond production figures and KPIs but the entire value system the farmers at the Kranji Countryside have created for their workers, families, children, the countless number of students who visit us for their learning journeys and the countless members of the public who ‘escape’ to seek respite, recharge their batteries and rekindle that sense of being grounded. Table that into your calculation of productivity and we can make a difference to our very own Singapore Happiness Index.
Come join us and sign up here!!
Have a good week ahead all!