Join Singapore Young Farmers (SYF) in a series of events from Sept – Nov 2015!

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!

Frogologist

DAY 2: Traveling to Vijaywada

We were given a de-brief first thing in the morning. Many hindu rules and practices were explained to us. Wats ironic in my mind is that men to take care of the ladies in India. Like how our fellow delegate Hapsibah has a male  farmer to follow her around to make sure she is all right. In Singapore’s context we might call that being over protective and just for sharing, there’s a social stigma in Singapore that most domestic violence happen more in Indian families then any other races!

We were also told that not only cleavages were a no no, might b better idea to keep the entire chest out of sight – by wearing a scarf! Also tight clothings are absolutely frowned upon. This completely contradicts how Singaporean  Indians wear back at home. I always tot that their saris are one of the most sexy n attractive costume! We were also told to take instructions as they were given, in order for things to move n for us to be safe.

At the international airport, we saw many guards dressed in military clothings. Some of them in the land rover n had a machine gun perched on the open top of the vehicle. That to me is unsettling. As much as we know the reasons behind this defence, some of us were scared stiff! Sadly In the discussion, many delegates feedback that they probably would not travel to this airport or rather to India again due to this uncomfortably tight security check.

Finally reached Vijayawada on kingfisher jet. It was indeed a rollarcoster experience with a pun intended. We were introduced to our Indian guides who took us to our hotel ( the gateway). We were greeted with such warmth n hospitality that I think is truly amazing with the Indian culture! They handed out freshly wrapped, hand held bouquets n bottles of cold water was quickly disseminated to each of us! The Helpers deftly climbed up the already pretty tall bus n tossed all the remaining luggages which couldn’t fit into the small boot on top of the bus!

Spoke to Cassie on the short flight n listened to her sharing about the influx of foreigners in Sydney n competition with vet jobs etc. She was rather candid about the explaining how the Asians always overachieving in results and she’ll be safe n have not problem with it that Sydney always need Vets in the countryside where criteria for entry was not so stringent! 

On the way to visiting a couple of Hindu temples, I sat with Mildred from Zambia, and queried her on her experience in Singapore.  She then shared how rice is only eating on special occasions, corn flour mix was eating as staples, and at times rice could be only  eaten with sugar. while we have tried to play a good host, I did wondered if we could have practiced some LOHAS value by serving the meals in smaller portions ( simply because we human are not like cows! We do not need to eat by the gallons!!) 

The day came to a close with a big Indian traditional dinner which I practiced eating with my fingers! It was fun in the beginning but towards the end, OMG. Cementing ( as Anna put it) the rice with buffalo curd and den scoffing it down your throat was far from a pleasant experience. The FANTASTICALLY delicious Meal at the beginning, felt like a OMG. It is SO ENOUGH. 

We then took a short walk back to the hotel. I was still keeping my eyes open for a Chinese person.

Interestingly, i Did meet this chinese person who also turned out to be a fellow Singaporean in the hotel lift!

‘hi! For 2 days i’have been looking out for a chinese! Did not expect to meet a Singaporean here!”

‘ So which company do you work for?”

‘ jurongfrogfarm’

“Jurong wat?”

” frog farm”

“Sorry, I beg your pardon?”

‘F-R-o-g’ 

Blank look…. The end.

Before I end off,  issac, the very very sweet GHanian, gave me some of their local goodies- pouch, bangle, earrings, keychain from Ghana which reads “Greetings from Ghana the land of Gold”. Its so True with Issac being the ambassador for his country. He is truly a GEM n i’m totally touched.