Let's Put the Culture Back into Agriculture
This article is part of the second issue of "The Sauce - on food, community and inspirations", a theme-based journazine on seeds. The inaugural issue focuses on soil, print edition of the full first issue is available here.
The move by Temasek Holdings and Bayer to found a new company, named Unfold, for the development of vertical farming seeds is not a surprising one. Our government has shown an interest to develop vertical farming as the primary system of food production for its 30by30 goal, as well as for the future of agriculture in Singapore. Investing in seed research and development can facilitate the success of vertical farming in Singapore while also doubling down on a global development of vertical farming.
Singapore is investing $20 million in this venture, while also portioning land, resources, and tens of millions of dollars toward developing and supporting vertical farms. We have to question whether such an investment and such a direction is appropriate, and also, if putting all our eggs into the basket of agri-tech and vertical farming is a wise move for our nation.
The trajectory of agri-tech and vertical farming is very clear – to isolate the various elements required to grow food, and to develop technology that increases the efficiency and productivity of manufacturing such food. However, agri-culture is not agri-facture, and I argue that the lack of “Cultivation” in our imagination of food systems is alarming and detrimental to our future.
Respecting the age-old technology of seeds and our relationship with them allows for a decentralised agriculture.
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