As Singapore moves towards its '30 by 30' goal of producing 30 per cent of its food by 2030, local farms are finding ways to scale up despite land and resource limitations. Sky Greens is one such farm that aims to help cities meet food safety and security targets by producing fresh produce through a low carbon, hydraulic-driven vertical farming system.
Jack Ng, founder of Sky Greens and an engineer by training, started experimenting with prototypes for a rotating vertical farm from the backyard of his aluminium factory in 2009. Fast forward to 2021, and his farm in Lim Chu Kang now produces one tonne of vegetables a day, supplying to leading supermarkets.
Sky Greens’ unique urban agriculture solutions allow farmers to produce crop sustainably and at a higher yield compared to traditional growing methods. Its patented design and technology are now being exported to micro-farms in Thailand, China, Vietnam and even as far as Canada through a franchise system.
In order to scale up and improve its technology, Sky Greens approached UOB for a financing solution to help meet the unique requirements of its regional business growth. Watch on to discover how UOB supported Sky Greens’ plans to bring its patented agritech to more countries, as it looks to attract the younger generation to farming.
Jack Ng (Inventor & Founder, Sky Greens):
I’m an engineer by training, but (am) also very interested in the problem of food security. So, I decided to use that experience in farming. This was how Sky Greens was founded in 2012. This is the first low carbon, hydraulic vertical farm in the world.
Conventional farming requires a lot of land. This can be a problem in some countries – for example, in Singapore. In other countries, farming can also damage the soil.
I am a solutions provider and I wanted to help farmers – not just in how to produce, but in how to improve their lifestyle. This will also contribute to our food security.
My concept is now in version 20. This is a patented design with its own ecosystem. One pump can serve three operations – fish, shrimp and vegetables.
Eric Tham (Managing Director & Head of Commercial Banking, UOB):
Sky Greens has a very interesting and powerful business model. It is sustainable farming in land-scarce Singapore. It has a strong management team with the vision to transform an idea into reality. They have now started producing quality vegetables with regular supply to local supermarkets.
To bring this overseas, I use a franchise model for micro-farms.
In Thailand, a vertical farm system has been built in Chonburi, and we have similar systems in Vietnam and China. In Canada, this system allows them to grow strawberries even in winter.
The farms are also educational, to attract the next generation of farmers.
Sky Greens has grown into a company with (the) ability to expand overseas with their IP.
We saw their ability to innovate and execute, not just in green farming but (using) an integrated circular system, including aquaculture.
We adopt a “tech company” approach to farming. In order to constantly improve our technology, we need UOB’s financing to help us scale up quickly.
This allows us to meet government requirements and export this technology overseas.
We see great potential in sustainability farming. Not just in Singapore, but also in other countries where land quality is variable.
This dovetails with UOB’s strategy to capture opportunities in the region by supporting such a company with similar ambitions.
Now, I am exploring the potential of linking up micro-farms globally. This model can offer new income streams, like farm-stay eco-tourism, e-commerce and education.
I do not just want to help today’s farmers. I also want to attract a younger generation to farming.