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I.F.F.I shuts down mega indoor veggie farm in Tuas

Once touted as a key player in Singapore’s agricultural future, Indoor Farm Factory Innovation (I.F.F.I), boasting a capacity of 300 tonnes of vegetables yearly, has closed its Tuas facility. The company was one of nine recipients of the Singapore Food Agency’s ’30 by 30′ express grant, aimed at boosting production during the COVID-19 pandemic, totaling S$39.4 million.



Singapore agriculture firm Indoor Farm Factory Innovation (I.F.F.I), once lauded as a promising player in Singapore’s future farming sector and said to have the capacity to produce approximately 300 tonnes of leafy greens annually, has reportedly shuttered its expansive 38,000 sq m facility in Tuas.

According to a report by The Straits Times (ST) on Sunday (26 May), the parent company of this local indoor farm, precision engineering firm TranZPlus Engineering, has been placed under liquidation, as evidenced by court documents filed for insolvency in November 2023.

ST observed that I.F.F.I relinquished its premises – situated at the Space@Tuas – and returned the units to JTC Corporation in April 2024.

I.F.F.I cultivated a diverse range of crops spanning from arugula and kale to green lettuce and red bok choy, marketing its produce under the brand name Next Farmers, previously available at FairPrice supermarkets.

One of only nine recipients of SFA’s 30 by 30 Express Grant during the pandemic

In September 2020, I.F.F.I was selected as one of nine recipients of the Singapore Food Agency’s (SFA) 30 by 30 express grant, an initiative allocating a total of S$39.4 million to aid farms in amplifying production during the COVID-19 pandemic.

As per SFA’s media release regarding the 30 by 30 express grant in 2020, I.F.F.I was allocated funds to establish a sprawling high-tech indoor farm, boasting a meticulously controlled, pesticide-free environment.

SFA highlighted that I.F.F.I.’s farm would harness AI farming systems synergized with IoT monitoring, precise dosing irrigation, and an advanced environmental control system to maintain optimal growing conditions year-round.

“It will also employ an innovative ActivH2O water treatment system that reduces bacteria count, improves its yield rate, and extends the shelf life of its produce.”

ST noted that, according to I.F.F.I’s 2021 financial statement, the company was anticipated to have received a minimum of S$2.9 million in cash grants from SFA earmarked for the construction of the farm.

Singapore’s high-tech farming sector facing grim challenges ahead

Earlier media reports have highlighted the significant challenges facing Singapore’s high-tech farming sector.

VertiVegies, for instance, abandoned its plans to construct an indoor farm in Lim Chu Kang after encountering issues with its joint venture partner, Chinese farming company SananBio, which was supposed to supply the production hardware. The company also returned a 2ha plot of land to SFA in April 2022.

Additionally, local farm Sky Greens, known for its patented vertical farming systems that promote innovative and environmentally friendly vegetable cultivation, is scaling down its operations.

In March this year,  The Temasek-backed food technology firm Eat Just Inc. has halted the production of its cultivated meat in Singapore, casting a shadow over the future of alternative protein sources in the region.

The Californian company, which made headlines in 2020 for obtaining the world’s first regulatory approval to sell cultivated meat in Singapore, has faced a series of setbacks leading to the current pause in operations, as reported by ST.

The pioneering product, known as Good Meat, is a cell-based chicken alternative that was previously available at Huber’s Bistro, the sole restaurant in Singapore offering the novel food. However, checks by ST revealed that Eat Just’s production facility in Bedok, which was expected to commence operations in the third quarter of 2023, remains shuttered, and its products are no longer available at Huber’s Bistro.

In response to inquiries, a spokeswoman for Eat Just cited the evaluation of various processing conditions, unit economics, and a broader strategic approach to production in Asia as reasons for the production pause. The halt has affected not only the anticipated Bedok facility but also a separate commercial manufacturing site previously involved in producing the cultivated chicken products.

Singapore’s agricultural industry struggles to meet 10% of the population’s nutritional needs

On 20 May, the SFA released its annual food statistics report, revealing a decline in local vegetable and seafood production in 2023.

According to the report, local vegetable production year-on-year declined by around 15%, accounting for only 3.2% of local consumption, compared to 3.9% in 2022. Despite an increase in the number of vegetable farms—from 111 in 2022 to 115 in 2023—production still decreased.

Seafood production fell to 7.3 per cent from 7.6 per cent in 2022, said SFA.

Despite Singapore’s 2019 establishment of the “30 by 30 Vision,” aimed at meeting 30% of the population’s nutritional needs by 2030 through local agricultural productivity, achieving this target remains challenging.

Currently, the local industry falls short, meeting only 10% of nutritional needs.

While the number of land-based seafood farms increased from 27 to 33 in 2023, sea-based seafood farms decreased from 109 to 98.

These production setbacks coincide with various challenges encountered by the local farming sector.

With over 90% of food imports, Singapore remains susceptible to global supply chain disruptions, including disease outbreaks, foreign policy shifts, and geopolitical tensions, as noted by SFA.

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Don’t have to shut down what. The liquidators should check to see if it is a going concern separate from its parent company. If so, then let it continue operations as an independent entity or sell it to another company to operate.