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Orchard Road, now one of Singapore's most up-scale thoroughfares, got its name because it originally was lined with fruit orchards and vegetable gardens. Although contemporary Singapore still maintained a tiny agricultural base, by 1988 urbanization had reduced the land area used for farming to only about 3 percent of the total. Nonetheless, with intensive production, the farming sector met part of the domestic demand for essential fresh farm produce: poultry, eggs, pork, some vegetables, and fish. In 1988 there were 2,075 licensed farms occupying only 2,037 hectares of land, with a total output of some S$362 million worth of farm produce. A decade earlier farm holdings had covered 1,280 hectares.

The Primary Production Department, under the Ministry of National Development, ensured an adequate and regular supply of fresh produce and provided support for agro-industries, including research and development aimed at improving commercial and hightechnology farming. The department projected in 1988 that a total of 2,000 hectares of land in ten agro-technology parks would be developed and rented out for long-term farming over the next decade.

The government began phasing out pig farming in 1984 because of odor and environmental pollution. Some 200 pig farms raising about 500,000 pigs in 1987 were scheduled to be reduced to 22 farms with 300,000 pigs by 1990. Imports from Malaysia, Indonesia, and Thailand would be increased to meet domestic needs. Some 1,000 poultry farms kept a total of about 2.2 million layers, 1.6 million broilers, 245,000 breeders, and 645,000 ducks. Singapore remained free of major animal diseases.

Singapore grew 5.6 percent of its total supply of 180,000 tons of fresh vegetables in 1988 and imported the rest from Malaysia, Indonesia, China, and Australia. The main crops cultivated locally included vegetables, mushrooms, fruit, orchids, and ornamental plants. About 370 vegetable farms produced an estimated 10,000 tons of vegetables, and mushroom cultivation expanded rapidly after the mid-1980s. The Mushroom Unit of the Primary Production Development conducted research on mushroom cultivation and advised commercial mushroom growers, who produced a variety of mushrooms for the local market.

Noted for its orchids, Singapore exported flowers worth S$13.8 million in 1988, mainly to Western Europe, Japan, Australia, and the United States. Singapore's 153 orchid farms produced another S$2.2 million worth of flowers for the domestic market.

Local fishermen provided about 13 percent of the country's 110,000-ton fresh fish supply in 1988, using three major fishing methods--trawling, gill-netting, and long-lining. There were about 1,170 licensed fishermen operating nearly 400 fishing vessels, most of which were motorized. The Jurong Port and Market Complex was a major fish landing point for both domestic and foreign vessels and handled 84 percent of the total fresh fish supply in 1988. Many foreign vessels brought their catches there for processing and reexport. Fresh fish arrived also by truck from Malaysia and Thailand and by sea and air from other neighboring countries.

Fish farming was a small but growing field. In 1988 seventyfour licensed marine fish farms raised mainly high-value fish such as grouper and sea bass in a total of forty hectares of coastal waters. Many of the farms had also introduced prawn farming in floating cages. Exports of ornamental fish for aquariums amounted to S$60 million in 1988. Some 400 licensed aquarium fish farms operated in Singapore in 1988, including 36 commercial farms operating in the Tampines Aquarium Fish Farming Estate.

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Lawrence B. Krause, et al., present an interesting and readable background analysis in The Singapore Economy Reconsidered. For a summary of Singaporean economic development between 1959 and 1984, see Singapore: Twenty-five Years of Development edited by You Poh Seng and Lim Chong Yah. The 1986 Report of the Economic Committee The Singapore Economy: New Directions (Singaporean Ministry of Trade and Industry) is vital for understanding the 1985 recession and the government's strategies for overcoming it and entering the 1990s. Analysis on this same subject is provided in Policy Options for the Singapore Economy by Lim Chong Yah, et al. Margaret W. Sullivan's "Can Survive, La" Cottage Industries in High-rise Singapore presents a sidewalk-level view of Singapore's small-scale manufacturing and economic and social psychology. The weekly Far Eastern Economic Review [Hong Kong] provides up-to-date information on economic events and developments. Statistical information from the Singaporean government abounds in the form of annual yearbooks from the various ministries--Culture, Trade and Industry, and the Department of Statistics--and the very useful, although promotional, Singapore 1989 and its annual equivalents. (For further information and complete citations, see Bibliography.)

Data as of December 1989

Country Listing

Singapore Table of Contents