Written Reply to Parliamentary Question on the Impact of El Nino on Singapore’s Food Supply by Ms Grace Fu, Minister for Sustainability and the Environment
Mr Alex Yam Ziming: To ask the Minister for Sustainability and the Environment (a) in view of the recent Indian rice export ban due to the current El Nino wave which has affected food production, what measures are being taken to address this potential loss of rice supply to Singapore; (b) whether there are expectations of more export bans by other countries on food supplies in the near future given the escalating climate disasters attributed to El Nino; and (c) what assurances can be provided to ensure food security for Singaporeans.
1 El Niño is a large-scale climate phenomenon over the tropical Pacific Ocean. It typically brings drier and warmer weather to much of Southeast Asia, but may also cause heavy rains or extreme weather events in other parts of the world. El Niño conditions are now here. While we are unable to ascertain the impact of El Niño specifically on food production, extreme weather events are known to cause crop loss and adversely affect food security.
2 Singapore imports more than 90% of our food, and we are not able to isolate ourselves from global food supply disruptions. Such disruptions could arise from a variety of causes, including extreme weather events, geopolitical tensions or decisions by foreign governments. Our multi-pronged approach to food security through diversifying our import sources, producing locally and stockpiling essential food items remains relevant and effective in mitigating the impact of a wide range of disruptions.
3 With regard to Mr Alex Yam’s question on what the Government has done to address the impact of India’s export ban on non-Basmati white rice, we had made a request to the Indian Government for a waiver from the ban for our domestic food security requirements and the Indian Government has acceded to our request.
4 This being said, industry and consumers also have a part to play for our food security. Businesses should have Business Continuity Plans in place and diversify their food supplies. Consumers can be flexible and consider other food options when any supply disruption occurs.