BIOME jungle located in a tropical area and

BIOME TYPE AND
CONDITION

 

Singapore is an
urban jungle located in a tropical area and has a rainforest biome (http://gseweb.gse.buffalo.edu/fas/yerrick/ubscience/UB_Science_Education_Goes_to_School/Sungei_Buloh.html).

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Though tropical rainforests are typically filled with a vast array of flora and
fauna, forests in Singapore have been cleared at an alarming rate mainly for
the purpose of agriculture. Singapore’s small land area has continuously been a
major issue, which further triggers deforestation to fulfill economic purposes.

According to Singapore Nature Society, Singapore only has approximately 3% of
its tropical rainforests left (https://blogs.ntu.edu.sg/hp331-2014-37/?page_id=23).

In terms of its flora and fauna, Singapore has lost “4,866 plants, 627
butterflies, 234 fish, 111 reptiles and 91 mammals over the last 200
years” (https://blogs.ntu.edu.sg/hp331-2014-37/?page_id=170).

 

Similarly, Indonesia also has a rainforest biome, specifically the
semi-arid and humid tropical biomes (https://indonesiafoodsecurityinquiry.weebly.com/about.html).

These biomes are both degrading at a rapid pace, in which Indonesia’s
deforestation rate is the highest in the world (https://indonesiafoodsecurityinquiry.weebly.com/about.html).

Indonesia has relied on rice as its staple food since a very long time, which
means that huge areas of land are required to plant this important crop.  Also, Indonesia’s local farmers often utilize
fires because they spread quickly. Hence, explaining the large amounts of
forests being cleared. Not only clearing land, forest fires in Indonesia have a
very devastating effect to surrounding food chains, water cycles and soil
fertility. Other factors that contribute to the loss of rainforests in
Indonesia include, construction of roads by logging companies, oil palm trees
plantations, rubber extractions for tires and the logging of acacia and
eucalyptus trees to make paper (https://kids.mongabay.com/slideshows/indonesian-rainforest-tour/).

 

 

SOIL CONDITION

 

Singapore often
faces severe local floods due to runoffs from lands that have been cleared.

Moreover, short streams that are supposed to drain the island “have low
gradients” (https://www.britannica.com/place/Singapore#ref52616),
which worsens the severity of the floods. Due to these floods, Singapore’s soil
condition is very concerning. It is difficult to obtain fertile soil,
especially when you live in the eastern part of this country. Soils obtained
from the granites have better quality but is still not considered fertile, and
soils from sedimentary rocks are inconsistent due to presence of compact
substances that hinders drainage of soil and growth of plant roots. To make
matters worse, the fertility of the soil is difficult to improve due to
Singapore’s low precipitation levels and the frequency of acidification. In
terms of human impacts, Singapore has a high solid waste disposal
to the ground, where chemicals leak out and seep into the soil. The rate of
waste disposed by citizens in Singapore is increasing rapidly, and they have
addressed this issue by establishing a solid waste management system that
integrates recycling, collection and disposal of wastes.

 

Since Indonesia is
located in a tropical area, its weather and climate really benefit the soil
condition. Indonesia is well known for its arable fertile soil, which drives
the country’s agricultural sector. All year long, Indonesia receives plentiful
rainfall and sunlight, which definitely allow plants and crops to flourish
better. The plentiful rainfall also provides enough moisture to keep the soil
fertile. Another reason to Indonesia’s fertile soil is due to its location in
the ring of fire. Catastrophic volcano eruptions in Indonesia have released
volcanic ashes into the air, and decades later, these ashes have weathered.

This means that the ashes have released nutrients and water into the Indonesian
soil.

 

However, in recent years, human impacts to the environment have
greatly affected the soil condition. For example, in areas that are inhabited
by low-income families, many people use commercial detergent to wash their
clothes in rivers. As the river flows through different bodies of water, they
eventually infiltrate into the soil, along with its harmful chemical contents.

In addition, many households in Indonesia discharge their excess detergent
water straight into the soil. Fortunately enough, usually households would
discharge this water into the soils of their own backyards, and they don’t
directly have an impact towards the country’s overall agricultural lands.

 

 

 

TYPE OF FARMING
SYSTEMS

 

Singapore has
adopted a commercial farming system. They greatly rely on technology to support
their fishery and agricultural systems. Singapore has also contributed to the
exporting of their food supplies to over 30 countries. They primarily export
500 ornamental fish and orchids. However, specifically talking about their
production of leafy vegetables, Singapore takes the role of subsistence farming
or also known as cash cropping. These vegetables are grown in their high-end
agro-technology parks that focus on achieving higher yields with greater
efficiency and lower wastes. Singapore’s tropical vegetables produce, including
beansprouts are designated only for local consumption. In fact, by 2016,
Singapore’s agricultural sector only contributes to approximately 1% of their
GDP per capita (https://www.export.gov/article?id=Singapore-Agricultural-Sectors).

 

Indonesia greatly
relies on agriculture for their source of food. They produce many locally-grown
vegetables but their export levels still remain low compared to their fruit and
vegetables imports. For lower-income families in Indonesia, they rely on
subsistence farming that cultivates smaller land areas. For larger scale vegetable
plantations, the country does make exporting efforts. Thus, this shows how
Indonesia’s farming system is commercialized, though import values are higher
than that of exports. Indonesia implements shifting cultivation, mix farming of
vegetables, monoculture practices, intensive-irrigated and rain-fed paddy
fields and intensive crop farming.

 

Three main farming
systems in Indonesia include:

1. Lowland Farming

This system
produces a single crop, which is rice. This is a crucial farming system in
Indonesia because it supplies the staple food for the whole population. With
this farming system, irrigation is utilized, as well as high fertilizer dosages
to increase yields.

 

2. Upland Farming

This system is
usually conducted in conditions with weathered acid soils. This farming system
has plenty of potential for development.

 

3. Perennial
Farming

Oil-palm and rubber are the two most common crops that are grown in
this perennial farming system. This farming system is both controlled by the
government and private owners.

 

 

 

WHAT INFLUENCES
FOOD CHOICE

 

Singapore has been
working to foster an open economy for their country. In regards to this, they
do not impose any taxes or tariffs on food products, except for those
containing tobacco and alcohol. Again, Singapore’s limited land area becomes a
major influence in terms of their food choice. Due to this, Singapore mostly
relies on food imports as their source of food. There has continuously been
growing demands for vegetables from the U.S. Singaporeans prefer vegetable
imports because they care more about the quality factor of these foods.

American vegetables are usually sold in Singapore’s premium markets, in which
here quality is really observed. Some of Singapore’s greatest imports from the
U.S. in 2016 were celery, asparagus and lettuce. Singaporean who earn higher
incomes have a leniency towards premium fresh fruit imports from America.

 

Due to Indonesia’s
volcanic soil advantages, the country mostly relies on agriculture for its
source of food. Many locals work as farmers in the agricultural sector, if not
fishermen. Taking a look at Indonesia’s staple food: rice. There are hundreds
and thousands of hectares of land area dedicated to rice crops. Thus, their
food choice typically revolves around rice and other leafy vegetables that can
flourish with the local soil and climatic conditions.

 

Due to the country’s geography, cultural diversity is very much
evident. Each of these diverse cultures always incorporate vegetables into
their dish, combining it with chili pepper. Indonesia still has many of its
population in the lower classes, and these lower classes often choose to eat
vegetables because they tend to be cheaper. In addition, the occupation of
Indonesian families could also affect their food choice. For instance, since
Indonesia is a maritime country, many of the low-income locals work as
fishermen. These fishermen of course would influence their families’ food
choice, in a way that their families would prefer seafood over agricultural
products.

 

 

 

TECHNOLOGY

 

Singapore has
invested on high-tech agricultural systems to maximize the limited land area
that they have for food production. The vertical farming system or the
“A-Go-Gro” technology in Singapore is arguably their most advanced
and successful agrotechology products. This farming system basically allows
Singaporeans to plant a vast array of green leafy vegetables without having to
use up large hectares of land. Instead, all they need is a single land area,
and vegetables are planted upwards on automatic platforms. Currently, Singapore
has constructed 120 A-Go-Gro towers and has planned to construct an additional
300. These towers are situated away from the urban area, in a designated farm
for an agro-technology park.

 

Vegetables like
chinese cabbage, lettuce, bayam, kang kong, cai xin, spinach and many more are
grown in towers that are A-shaped. Each of these towers can hold from “22
to 26 tiers of growing troughs” (https://permaculturenews.org/2014/07/25/vertical-farming-singapores-solution-feed-local-urban-population/).

To specify this process, the vertical farming utilizes an interesting water-pulley
system, where aluminum platforms will automatically rotate to allow each row of
plants to receive equal amount of sunlight, nutrients and irrigation. (Ava.gov,
2014). The A-Go-Gro technology can produce higher yields without the use of as
much water, natural resources and energy as traditional farming. The roofing in
which the vertical farming is conducted is built with PVC as well as netted
walls to allow for better efficiency in the cultivation of the vegetables.

Thus, production costs can be kept low.

 

Not only that, in
some areas of the country, Singapore uses automation from seeding stages up to
the packaging stages of vegetables. In several farms, solar energy is used for
the automating of ventilation fans and for additional lighting. The irrigation
systems in these farms use overhead sprinklers. Singapore’s vegetable farming
mostly uses soil or hydroponic cultivation to produce high quality vegetables
that have a high value in the domestic market.

 

 

Unlike Singapore
however, Indonesia still mostly rely on labor workforce. The implementation of
technology is still very poor and they rely on traditional soil cultivation
methods. Just very recently in 2016, Indonesia’s current president has
introduced their plan to improve the country’s agricultural technology. They
are planning to provide machinery which will be utilized from the plantation
and harvest of crops. According to Jokowi, this plan is expected to allow
Indonesia have sufficient supplies of rice, corn and soybeans in the following
3 years after the implementation of the plan.

 

 

 

 

POLITICS FOR
FOOD SUPPLY

 

As mentioned
previously, Singapore does not impose any form of tax barriers or tariffs on
food importers, except on tobacco products and alcoholic beverages. Singapore
sees the need to remain dependent on food imports because local demand for
vegetables and other products from other countries have been growing on a
steady rate.

 

Indonesia still
relies on imports of horticulture because some of these food sources are
relatively cheaper (governments in other countries like China, Thailand and
Malaysia provide subsidies) than locally-grown products. One of Indonesia’s
agricultural research facilities, Bogor Agricultural University provides very
limited quality seeds to local farmers. Furthermore, there is also a lack of
government support; where modern cultivation techniques are not educated to
local farmers. The Indonesian farmers also suffer from lack of funds from the
government to improve their transportation and storage of food supplies. Very
often, as local farmers are transporting their vegetables or food to the local
market, the open-air trucks spoil large quantities of the foods. To worsen
this, while Indonesia has high logistic costs, their infrastructure still
remains poor.

 

Back in 2012, Indonesia’s government decided to close down 4 out of
8 ports to horticulture products. Their primary reason was because the country
has limited laboratories to conduct health and safety tests on the products.

The government has also revised several amendments regarding the import of
fruits and vegetables. One of these amendments relate to how importers must
have an import license before horticulture products can enter Indonesia. These
revisions have of course made it more difficult for importers to deliver food
supplies to Indonesia, but it will allow the local farmers to remain
competitive.

 

 

 

IMPROVING
SUSTAINABILITY OF FOOD SUPPLIES

 

Due to Singapore’s
limited land area for agriculture, they have experienced milestones in
providing sustainable food supplies for the whole population. However, being
the MEDC that they are, their investment in technology, such as agrotechnology
has really proven that they are in the process of improving the country’s
sustainability of food supplies. Singapore is currently in the process of
adding new establishments of the A-Go-Gro technology to ensure that supply for
food will continuously be sufficient for the population in the years to come.

 

In addition,
according to Straits Times, after nearly 20 years, the Singaporean government
is finally releasing new plots (36 plots) for farming purposes, which in total
covers the area of approximately 60 football fields. These new farm plots are
designated for the establishment of high-tech farming, thus to allow the
production of higher yields while maximizing efficiency and implementing the
3R’s. To encourage local farmers to adopt the high-tech farming systems, the
AVA will be providing rewards for them (rewards are not specified). The
strategy is to help local farmers realize that these high-tech farming systems
are not merely to boast about Singapore’s technological abilities, but to
realize that efficiency and higher yields can be obtained to sustainably supply
food for the whole population.

 

As of now,
Indonesia’s food supply is secured through large and small-scale farmings. They
also rely on imports to provide sufficient food supplies. However, channels of
distribution and infrastructure has been very poor, reducing sufficient food
supplies for the designated areas. Thus, to improve sustainability of food
supplies, the government has tried to implement a Self-Sufficiency Plan every
since 2012 whereby they focus on improving exports and imports, diversifying
food crops and provide better management strategy for food stocks.

 

Furthermore, Indonesia has worked with plant scientists from
Wageningen University & Research in developing a program called VegImpact.

This program serves to provide training to approximately 10,000 Indonesian
farmers about sustainable vegetable farming. They are given training on
improving varieties of vegetables, fertilization process and protecting crops
from pests without harming the environment.

 

 

 

UNSUSTAINABLE
AGRICULTURAL TECHNIQUES

 

Since this essay
only focuses on their vegetable farming, there are no unsustainable
agricultural techniques that can be found in Singapore.

 

In contrast to this, since Indonesia still relies on traditional
agricultural techniques that may potentially cause significant damage to the
surrounding environment. For instance, Indonesia relies on irrigation-intensive
farming. This system requires large amounts of water. As the water passes
through the large area of agricultural land, the heat of the sun causes much of
the water to evaporate, hence leaving only a few left for irrigating the crops.

Also, Indonesian farmers are not very educated on the importance sustainable
agricultural practices. This is evident through their actions of using chemical
fertilizers and pesticides to increase yields of food supply. However, they
clearly do not realize that by doing this, they’re not doing the environment
any good.

 

 

 

SUSTAINABLE
AGRICULTURAL TECHNIQUES

 

Talking about
Singapore’s agricultural techniques, it couldn’t be argued that their A-Go-Gro
technology for planting tropical leafy vegetables is very sustainable.

Singapore works together with Sky Greens (https://permaculturenews.org/2014/07/25/vertical-farming-singapores-solution-feed-local-urban-population/),
a company that specializes in the implementation of green technologies and to
encourage citizens to conduct the 3R’s (reduce, reuse and recycle). For
instance, as mentioned previously, the vertical farming system is located away
from the urban environment, which keeps it away from pollutions. The location
of the farm also allows it to receive abundant natural light and insolation
from the sun. Thus, ensuring the quality of the vegetables being produced.

 

Another sustainable
aspect of the vertical farming is that each A-shaped tower only requires 1
liter of water to automate the rotation system. This water is obtained through
a reservoir that collects rainwater. To power one tower, Sky Greens only
require the energy of lighting up a single 60-watt bulb. In addition, the water
that has been used to automate the tower is filtered and recycled, then
transferred back to the plants. Even better, all sorts of organic wastes that
are produced from this vertical farming are kept for the purpose of composting
and reusing. The efficient use of energy and water for this A-Go-Gro technology
has allowed Singapore to reduce greenhouse gas emissions and reduce the
possibility of harmful chemicals leaking into the surrounding soil.

 

Indonesia has been trying to support agricultural practices that are
both sustainable and organic. In Bali, farmers’ unions and NGO’s have formed
the VECO-Indonesia, Indonesian Development of Education and Permaculture
Foundation as well as the Bali Organic Association, which aim to promote
sustainable agricultural techniques to the surrounding society. They try to
encourage local farmers to cultivate earthworms to improve conditions of
degraded soil. They have also created a system in which organic rice is sorted
and controlled to maintain its quality. VECO-Indonesia focuses their practices
more towards Eastern Indonesia, providing sustainable agricultural systems for
this area. They introduce the LEISA method, which stands for Low External Input
Sustainable Agriculture. This method encourages farmers to use natural inputs
to replace chemical inputs, like for example teaching farmers to make green
manure as a substitute for chemical fertilizer (http://www.insideindonesia.org/in-search-of-sustainable-farming).

 

 

WHAT CAN BE APPLIED
IN INDONESIA

 

Since Indonesia
still relies on traditional farming methods to cultivate vegetables, it would
be wise if Indonesia’s government try to instill the use of technology to help
local farmers produce higher yields and keep up with the growing demands from
the increasing population. Singapore’s A-Go-Gro technology has been proven to
be very efficient and environmentally friendly too. Indonesia still has many
potential in the agricultural sector that they are yet to develop. Considering
how Indonesia’ soil condition is very fertile, it would be very helpful if the
government could start implementing technology into their agricultural
practices. With excellent soil conditions and a great tropical climate all year
long, agro-technology in Indonesia would be able to cultivate and produce food
products in very high yields and thus Indonesia could start exporting more of
their produce to other countries.

 

Another important thing that could be implemented in Indonesia to
improve their food supply is by focusing on real, physical actions rather than
simply revising amendments and formulating written plans to improve the
agricultural sector. Like Singapore, their plans to lease lands for
agricultural practices were quickly executed. Quick decision-making and
government support must be applied in Indonesia, because if not from the local government,
Indonesian farmers are going to remain uneducated about the importance and the
need for sustainable farming systems for the long run.

 

 

PERSONAL REFLECTION

 

Based on the
information above, it is clear to see that both the LEDC’s and MEDC’s suffer
from the lack of land for agricultural purposes. The alarming rate of
deforestation happening in both Singapore and Indonesia has allowed me to
understand how both countries need to invest on further research to enable them
to obtain substitutes for agricultural products from their rainforests instead.

Having the rainforest biome, both Singapore and Indonesia have been provided
with a lot of intrinsic and extrinsic values. For instance, the rainforest is
rich with diverse plants and animals that could provide abundant food supplies
for the population. In addition, plants can also be a source of
medication for locals.

 

As stated before,
Indonesia could consider applying Singapore’s agro-technology systems. Although
this might provide many beneficial factors to the overall food supply of the
country, there is a need to understand other factors. Since Indonesia still has
a high poverty rate and the majority of the population still does not fall into
the middle upper-class and upper-class, introducing the agro-technology would
be very risky. The possibility of local worker redundancies would be very high
and this is not helpful to the already worrying poverty rate.

 

The Indonesian
government should also invest more in educating local farmers on the methods of
modern agricultural practices and the use of technology. They must incorporate
a hands-on approach to allow these farmers to harness modern techniques. The
government should also really provide more funds for the improvement of
Indonesia’s infrastructure, to aid in the distribution process of local
produce. 

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