Farmlands in Lim Chu Kang
by Lim, Jean
The Lim Chu Kang district is located in the north of Singapore and is bounded by the Johor Straits, Kranji Reservoir and the Western Water Catchment of Singapore. It covers an area of approximately 1,781 hectares, and is a largely rural district comprising mainly farms, farm-stay chalets and the Sungei Buloh Wetland Reserve.1 Farms in Lim Chu Kang today are modern, intensive farms that optimise the use of limited agricultural land in Singapore through the application of science and technology. In recent years, the area has also become a popular attraction that provides visitors with a chance to experience rural farm life in Singapore.2
Lim Chu Kang was founded by Neo Tiew, a Chinese immigrant in the early 20th century. The name Lim Chu Kang is derived from the Chinese word “kangchu”, which translates as “owner of the river”. It is also the term used for the system of land ownership for pepper and gambier plantations in the region from the 1800s to early 1900s. The name may have originated from the fact that these plantations and their surrounding village settlements were nearly always situated along the riverbanks.3
In the early 20th century, Lim Chu Kang comprised mainly pepper, gambier and rubber plantations.4 In the 1950s, domestic demand and the implementation of modern methods allowed vegetable, fruit, poultry and pig farming to flourish in the area.5
In the 1970s and 1980s, rapid industrial development led to a decrease in agricultural land use in Singapore. Pig farming was phased out gradually in the 1980s, and the Primary Production Department (PPD) embarked on its agrotechnology programme in 1986. Agrotechnology is defined as the application of biological science and technology to intensive farming systems. Agrotechnology parks that house intensive high-technology farms were initiated and encouraged by the PPD as a means to maximise output from Singapore’s limited agricultural land. Under the programme, farmlands in Lim Chu Kang, Murai, Sungei Tengah, Mandai, Nee Soon and Loyang were converted into modern agrotechnology parks.6
Farmlands at Lim Chu Kang today
Due to limited land resources, the government introduced agrotechnology farms in Lim Chu Kang, Murai, Sungei Tengah, Mandai and Nee Soon with 20-year leases to tenants. The farms in the agrotechnology park were designed to provide a complementary mix of agricultural activities that blended well with Singapore’s predominantly urban environment. The agrotechnology farms were to not only provide some of Singapore’s food, but also important exports besides also serving as research and development (R&D) centres. It is hoped that the farms will also be developed into eco-tourist attractions.7
Agri-tainment at Lim Chu Kang farmlands
In 2000, selected farms in Lim Chu Kang participated in a new initiative by the Singapore Tourism Board to boost tourism in Singapore. These farms served as tourist attractions for visitors to experience Singapore’s rural farm life.8 Farm tours to Lim Chu Kang were given a boost in 2005 when the Urban Redevelopment Authority (URA) allowed farms in Singapore to take in guests for farm stays and to run retail shops or food outlets on their premises. A growing number of farms in Lim Chu Kang have started providing such services as a means to supplement the income from their farming activities. In May 2008, under the URA’s island-wide Leisure Plan, Kranji and Lim Chu Kang were earmarked for tourism and agri-tainment development. Agri-tainment activities include farm-stays, spa treatments, guided strolls through plantations and hands-on farming activities.9
Today, visitors to agrotechnology parks can participate in interesting activities such as goat milking demonstrations and drinking fresh goat’s milk at Hay Dairies (3 Lim Chu Kang Lane 4), or learning about the intricacies of frog farming at the Jurong Frog Farm (55 Lim Chu Kang Lane 6). Visitors can also opt for a farm stay at the D’Kranji Farm Resort (10 Neo Tiew Lane 2), stroll through greenhouses and learn about aeroponics farming at Aero-Green Technology (260 Neo Tiew Crescent), or purchase farm fresh vegetables and fruit at Bollywood Veggies (100 Neo Tiew Road) and Spring Orchard (1 Lim Chu Kang Lane 4). However, not all farms at Lim Chu Kang are involved in agri-tainment. Some farms are closed to the public and focus only on farming.10
Besides the Lim Chu Kang Agrotechnology Park, there is a 10-hectare Agri-Bio Park (ABP) located within the Lim Chu Kang farmlands that plays a key role in Singapore’s agricultural sector. Agri-biotechnology is defined as the application of advanced biological sciences such as genetics and cell and molecular biology to the field of agriculture. The ABP is the centre of agri-biotechnology development in Singapore and provides a supportive environment for R&D, product development and the provision of tropical agrotechnology services to farms in the region. Agri-biotechnology activities at the ABP include R&D in fish vaccines, food safety, and animal and plant health testing.11
A few centres of the Agri-food and Veterinary Authority (AVA) are also located within the ABP, namely, the Marine Fisheries Research Department of the Southeast Asian Fisheries Development Centre (the regional hub for fisheries post-harvest technology research and development), the Animal & Plant Health Centre (which monitors and provides laboratory diagnostic services for animal and plant diseases), and the Veterinary Public Health Centre (food inspection and laboratory testing services). These centres complement and support the activities of the ABP.12
1. Urban Redevelopment Authority. (1997). Central water catchment, Lim Chu Kang, north-eastern islands, Tengah, western islands, western water catchment planning areas : planning report 1997. Singapore: Urban Redevelopment Authority, p. 8. (Call no.: RSING 711.4095957 SIN)
2. FARMSTAY: SINGAPORE. (2008, January 13). The New Paper, p. 13. Retrieved from NewspaperSG.
3. Savage, V. R., & Yeoh, B. S. A. (2004). Toponymics: A study of Singapore street names . Singapore: Eastern Universities Press, pp. 234-235. (Call no.: RSING 915.9570014 SAV-[TRA])
4. The DNA of Singapore. Lim Chu Kang. Retrieved on 2016, June 28 from NUS website: http://lkcnhm.nus.edu.sg/dna/places/details/9
5. The leap forward' in Singapore farms. (1959, February 6). The Straits Times, p. 8. Retrieved from NewspaperSG.
6. Tang, K. F. (Ed.) (1993). Kampong days: Village life and times in Singapore revisited. Singapore: National Archives, pp. 56-57. (Call no.: RSING 959.57 KAM-[HIS])
7. Low, L. (Ed.). (1999). Singapore Towards a Developed Status. Singapore: Oxford University Press, p. 151. (Call no.: RSING 338.90095957 SIN)
8. Singapore banks on farms to draw tourists. (2000, May 20). The Straits Times, p. 56. Retrieved from NewspaperSG.
9. 'Agri-tainment' comes to Lim Chu Kang. (2007, January 16). Today, p. 20. Retrieved from NewspaperSG.
10. STB'S AGRI-TOURISM PROGRAMME. (2002, February 19). Today, p. 6. Retrieved from NewspaperSG.
11. Few changes in just released DGPs for six areas. (1997, March 19). The Business Times, p. 2. Retrieved from NewspaperSG.
12. Agri-Food & Veterinary Authority of Singapore. (2016, June 21). About AVA. Retrieved 2016, August, 17 from AVA website: http://www.ava.gov.sg/about-ava/avas-centres
Eng, Y.P. (Director & Producer). (2005). Diminishing Memories. [Video recording]. Singapore: Eng Yee Peng.
(Call no.: RSING 959.57092 DIM-[HIS])
The information in this article is valid as at 2009 and correct as far as we are able to ascertain from our sources. It is not intended to be an exhaustive or complete history of the subject. Please contact the Library for further reading materials on the topic.