Wednesday, November 7, 2007

Feeding Singapore Consumers: Environmental Implications of Food Import Choices and Policies

Below is the research and conceptual framework I've come up with for my Masters Dissertation. Although the presentation I gave on Monday bombed a stinky one, but still, I managed to get some very valuable feedback.

Here's the overall structure of the research:

GE5217 final presentation.ppt

Due to Singapore's high per capita income and strong purchasing power, our industry consumption (tourism and airline/maritime catering), as well as our strong food dependency, we have a strong influence on the agricultural sector of Malaysia and Indonesia. Why these two countries? Mainly because 50% of food in Singapore comes from Malaysia while Indonesia gets lots of money invested in their agri-sector from Singapore. Through these ways, we have negative and positive influences on the producing countries. As we have a strong influence, economically and logically, we would have certain influence over the agricultural practices of these countries as they would pander their production to our consumption. However, even as we diversify our supply, these countries also diversify their consumption base.

This research aims to basically find out how much our consumer power or state influence have on the agricultural practices of Indonesia and Malaysia and in turn, how are we affecting their environmental quality.

Thus, my field work, other than interviewing the different actors within the food systems from consumption to production, it is also to find out the environmental quality in the production end.

GE5217 final presentation.ppt

Using these 4 indicators as recommended by the agricultural indicators by OECD (2001), I would try to access the environmental quality of different type of agricultural practices such as:
  • Organic Farms
  • Conventional Farms
  • Ferticulture (High-Tech) Farms
  • Watercrest Farming
  • Seasonal Food Crops
  • Niche Food Crops
  • Exporters
  • Domestic Producers
  • Farms certified with GAP (good agricultural practices)
  • Farms funded by Singapore government

In addition to these information, there will also be look into the historical change in environmental in the area through secondary literature to give a better background benchmark.

Hopefully we will then be able to express these information in 2 matrix:

1. One would be a performance assessment of different type of vegetables grown through different methods and circumstances. What vegetables should you not consume under what methods of production and from what country?

2. The other would be to assess the sustainability performance of different type of farming methods measured against the benchmark of convention farming. Which is more sustainable yet taking into account productivity?

3. Using food miles calculation and selected examples analyzing the overall system from production to transport to consumption as well as physical conditions, how does indonesia compares against malaysia. Is state intervention more effective than the exercising of consumer power? Which source is more sustainable?

Research Questions:
1) How much of the environment in producing areas influence by Singapore? Positive or Negative?

2) If Singaporeans demand for more sustainably produced products will that change the environmental quality of producing country? Will this contribute to long term environmental security and in turn food security for Singapore?

3) What are Singaporeans demanding for and what should they choose to buy if they wish to impact environment positively? Can they influence farmers through government intervention?

4) Are government interventions making a substantial impact? Is this motivated by consumer safety and demands as well?

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