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Republic Poly launches new facility to train students in agricultural operations

Aug 3, 2022

Second Minister for Education Maliki Osman (centre) harvesting plants at The Greenhouse in Republic Polytechnic, on Aug 3, 2022. ST PHOTO: JASON QUAH SINGAPORE - Students in Republic Polytechnic (RP) can tap a new greenhouse facility for hands-on training in agricultural operations and plant development. The Greenhouse on campus was launched on Wednesday (Aug 3) to enable more than 700 students each year to experiment with farming techniques and explore different methods of growing plants. The building in Woodlands comprises a naturally ventilated greenhouse, a climate-controlled glasshouse and two storeys of laboratories within containers dedicated to supporting more than 20 different types of growing plants. Other facilities include a bato bucket system in which two or more containers filled with plants are connected to the same irrigation and drainage pipes. This will allow water and nutrients to be consistently supplied to plants that require heavy feeding, such as tomatoes and cucumbers. Mr Kenneth Yeo, 20, a final-year biotechnology student, said he learnt a great deal about the complexities of growing plants, such as tomatoes, in the facility. Mr Yeo said: "It takes about 14 days to grow and then we had to do some measurements to check if the plant is growing quite well. We also had to carry out different types of analysis, such as checking different stress parameters to find out if plants can grow in certain conditions." The polytechnic's chief executive and principal, Mr Yeo Li Pheow, said the new facility is part of the school's efforts to support Singapore's goal of producing 30 per cent of the country's nutritional needs by 2030. He added: "The facility will further deepen RP's engagements and expertise in the agriculture technology space and nurture a pipeline of industry-ready talent." Speaking at the launch on Wednesday, Second Minister for Education Maliki Osman said educational institutions, such as RP, play a vital role in attracting and developing talent like Kenneth for the agriculture technology sector. Furthermore, Singapore must create more higher-value jobs in the industry if it is to meet its 30 by 30 goal, Dr Maliki added. "We need to go beyond the traditional methods of farming, and use technology to maximise our limited farming space. This requires new skill sets and talent in the sector," he said. The Greenhouse at Republic Polytechnic is the first teaching and research facility dedicated to growing plants in regulated climatic conditions in an institute of higher learning. ST PHOTO: JASON QUAH Dr Maliki noted that Singapore now employs about 2,000 people in the agri-food industry, and it is projected that 4,700 new and redesigned jobs will be created by 2030. Professor William Chen, director of Nanyang Technological University's Food Science and Technology Programme, said RP's greenhouse serves as an important test bed for agriculture technology innovations. "The facility not only helps to test the quality of the crop that one wants to grow, but it also helps to enhance the efficiency of the operation," he said. More On This Topic

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