Farmlands in Lim Chu Kang
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The Lim Chu Kang district is located at the north of Singapore and is bounded by the Johor Straits, the Kranji Reservoir and the Western Water Catchment of Singapore. It is about 18 km2 and is a largely rural district comprising mainly of farms, farm-stay chalets and the Sungei Buloh Wetland Reserve. Farms in Lim Chu Kang today are modern intensive farms that optimise the use of the limited agricultural land in Singapore through the application of science and technology. In recent years, the area has also become a popular tourist attraction that provides visitors with a chance to experience rural farm life in Singapore.
Lim Chu Kang was founded by Neo Tiew, a Chinese immigrant in the early 20th century. The name Lim Chu Kang is derived from the Chinese word “kangchu” which translates as “owner of the river”. It is also the term used for the system of land ownership for pepper and gambier plantations in the region from the 1800s to early 1900s. The name may have originated from the fact that these plantations and their surrounding village settlements were nearly always situated on the riverbanks.
In the early 19th century, Lim Chu Kang comprised mainly of pepper and gambier plantations. Rubber plantations subsequently overtook these, in response to the development of the motorcar industry and the corollary increase in demand for rubber products. In the 1960s, domestic demand gave rise to numerous vegetable, fruit, poultry, and pig farms in the area. Such farming did not require large pieces of land, and most were family-run farms that used traditional farming methods and produced a mix of products in addition to a main crop/produce.
In the 1970s and 1980s, rapid industrial development in Singapore led to a decrease in agricultural land use in Singapore. Pig farming was phased out gradually in the 1980s and the Primary Production Department (PPD) embarked on its agrotechnology programme in 1986. Agrotechnology is defined as the application of biological science and technology to intensive farming systems. Agrotechnology parks that house intensive high-technology farms were initiated and encouraged by the PPD as a means to maximise output from Singapore’s limited agricultural land. Under the programme, farmlands in Lim Chu Kang, Murai, Sungei Tengah, Mandai, Nee Soon and Loyang were converted into modern agrotechnology parks.
Farmlands at Lim Chu Kang today
The Agrotechnology Park in Lim Chu Kang became fully operational in the mid-1990s. The farms in the agrotechnology park are designed to provide a complementary mix of agricultural activities that blends well with Singapore’s predominantly urban environment. The Lim Chu Kang Agrotechnology Park houses a diverse range of farms, from those that produce common commodities like vegetables, poultry and ornamental flowers, to unusual ones like frog and quail farms.
Agri-tainment at Lim Chu Kang farmlands
In 2000, selected farms in Lim Chu Kang participated in a new initiative by the Singapore Tourism Board to boost tourism in Singapore. These farms served as tourist attractions for visitors to experience Singapore’s rural farm life. Farm tours to Lim Chu Kang were given a boost in 2005 when the Urban Redevelopment Authority (URA) allowed farms in Singapore to take in guests for farm stays and to run retail shops or food outlets on their own premises. A growing number of farms in Lim Chu Kang started providing such services as a means to supplement the income from their farming activities. In May 2008, under the URA’s island wide Leisure Plan, Kranji and Lim Chu Kang were earmarked for tourism and agri-tainment development. Agri-tainment activities include farm-stays, spa treatments, guided strolls through plantations and hands-on farming activities.
Today, visitors to the agrotechnology park can participate in interesting activities like viewing goat milking demonstrations and drinking fresh goat’s milk at Hay Dairies (3, Lim Chu Kang Lane 4), or learning about the intricacies of frog farming at the Jurong Frog Farm (55, Lim Chu Kang Lane 6). Visitors can also opt for a farm stay at the D’Kranji Farm Resort (10, Neo Tiew Lane 2), stroll through greenhouses and learn about aeroponics farming at the Aero-Green Technology (260, Neo Tiew Crescent), or purchase farm fresh vegetables and fruit at Bollywood Veggies (100, Neo Tiew Road) and Spring Orchard (1, Lim Chu Kang Lane 4). However, not all the farms at Lim Chu Kang are involved in agri-tainment, some farms are closed to the public and only do pure farming activities.
Besides the Lim Chu Kang Agrotechnology Park, there is a ten-hectare Agri-Bio Park (ABP) located within the Lim Chu Kang farmlands that plays a key role in Singapore’s agricultural sector. Agri-biotechnology is defined as the application of advanced biological sciences such as genetics and cell and molecular biology to the field of agriculture. The ABP is the centre of agri-biotechnology development in Singapore and provides a supportive environment for research and development (R&D), product development and the provision of tropical agrotechnology services to farms in the region. Agri-biotechnology activities at the ABP include research and development in fish vaccines, food safety, and animal and plant health testing.
A few centres of the Agri-food and Veterinary Authority (AVA) are also located within the ABP, namely the Marine Fisheries Research Department of the Southeast Asian Fisheries Development Centre (the regional hub for fisheries post-harvest technology research and development), the Animal & Plant Health Centre (monitors and provides laboratory diagnostic services for animal and plant diseases), and the Veterinary Public Health Centre (food inspection and laboratory testing services). These centres complement and support the activities of the ABP.
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(Call no.: RSING 959.5142 WIN)
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(Call no.: RSING 631.095957 FAN)
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The information in this article is valid as at 2009 and correct as far as we are able to ascertain from our sources. It is not intended to be an exhaustive or complete history of the subject. Please contact the Library for further reading materials on the topic.