Liberty Produce awarded funding for Singapore vertical farming project

CHAP member Liberty Produce is leading a project to develop innovative hybrid farming and greenhouse technologies to work towards Singapore’s food security and net-zero goals.

The two-year project, which began on 1st April 2021, is being funded by Innovate UK. It will see Liberty Produce jointly lead the Hybrid Advanced Research Vertical Farming Environment Systems and Technology (HARVEST) consortium with Singapore-based urban farming company LivFresh. The James Hutton Institute and Republic Polytechnic Singapore (RP) are research partners.

The Singapore government has set a goal of increasing self-production of its fresh produce by 30% by 2030 via investment in high-tech farms, among other measures. Currently, the Republic of Singapore imports more than 90% of its food supplies which is a food security risk, as shown by the effect of the COVID-19 pandemic on global food chains.

The HARVEST team will apply and refine hybrid farming techniques developed in the UK, with funding from UKRI, to support Singapore’s national strategy. This is Liberty Produce’s first-stage milestone towards net-zero food production. The project places UK intellectual property and novel technologies at the forefront of systems architecture in Totally Controlled Environment Agriculture (TCEA) and food security.

Liberty Produce will transfer its skills and knowhow (as developed in the CHAP IHCEA) to its Totally Controlled Environment Agriculture (TCEA) R&D system under development at the James Hutton Institute in Dundee. This ‘Liberator’ farming system will then be installed at LivFresh’s site in Singapore, where it will be integrated with the existing advanced greenhouse technology. The team will research different aspects of how combined-system growing can provide optimum efficiency and higher nutrient density for crops needed by the Singaporean market. At the end of the two-year project, the team hope to be able to increase domestic crop production in Singapore.

Dr Dylan Banks, Co-Founder, Liberty Produce, said: “We are delighted to receive international recognition for our hybrid farming technology and to be given the opportunity to contribute to Singapore’s net-zero and food security goals.”

British High Commissioner to Singapore, Her Excellency Kara Owen, said: “This is a great example of Singapore and the UK collaborating to advance shared goals of our countries in an area of increasing importance – sustainable and secure food production.”

Karthik Rajan, Founder, LivFresh, said: “We are very pleased to be a part of this unique cross-border academia-enterprise collaboration and look forward to enabling access to cutting edge innovation in urban farming.”

Professor Derek Stewart, Director of the Advanced Plant Growth Centre at the James Hutton Institute, added: “This project is a truly international collaborative effort and embodies the ethos of the new £27m Advanced Plant Growth Centre initiative. We look forward to seeing our science in action in South-East Asia and helping Singapore reach its food self-sufficiency targets in a sustainable manner.”

For more about this project visit the Liberty Produce website.

For information about CHAP’s partnership with Liberty Produce and the James Hutton Institute, go to IHCEA.

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