Farmer Wakes At 3am Daily To Meet Covid-19 Demand, Now Troubled By Cost Of Reinstating Land To Govt

As the Covid-19 pandemic and the resulting restrictions has led to panic buying of food, local farms are toiling hard to meet Singaporeans’ needs.

One third-generation farm has been working really hard — but finds itself having to shut down by the end of June, and not because of Covid-19.

Disheartened, local food business owner Jane Lee decided to call attention to the closure of her favourite supplier and how tough it is to be a farmer in Singapore.

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Food business owner pens heartfelt tribute to hardworking farmer

Ms Lee penned a heartfelt Facebook post on Thursday (4 Jun), paying tribute to the hardworking farmer.

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She said she respects Mr Oh, the proprietor of Oh Chin Huat Hydroponic Farms Pte Ltd, so much that she has never considered working with other suppliers despite getting offers from them.

Throughout their 6 years of working together, Mr Oh has always provided “top-notch” service with low crop prices, and even made urgent personal deliveries when they lacked supplies, she added.

SLA taking back land, farmer can’t pay reinstatement costs

According to Ms Lee, the farm is closing down as the Singapore Land Authority is “taking back the land to build houses”.

Mr Oh is also in a bind because he says he cannot afford the high cost of reinstating the land, which amounts to about $500,000.

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Reinstating the land means clearing it up and returfing it by replanting grass, so as to meet the requirements of the authorities.

As returfing of the grass involves grass of different grades and prices, reinstatement of the land is an expensive process — Mr Oh has been quoted the princely sum of half a million by contractors.

Despite him saving up for this, he simply can’t afford to pay so much, and has been having sleepless nights, according to Ms Lee.

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Land & manpower are financial concerns when running farm in S’pore

Highlighting the difficulties of running a farm in Singapore, Ms Lee pointed out that land and manpower are also sources of financial concern that have an impact on the survival of the farm.

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Despite that, Mr Oh and his staff, which comprise his family members and a few foreign workers, are dedicated to the work.

He reportedly wakes up at 3am daily and works till late at night in order to ensure local food demands are being met during the Covid-19 period — and does this with little complaint, saying it’s a privilege to serve the nation.

Ostensibly, it’s been a tough time, as Ms Lee says when he saw Mr Oh on Thursday (4 Jun), he had visibly lost weight.

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Owner has sense of responsibility for farm that lasted 3 generations

In response to his numerous worries, Ms Lee joked that as a private business, Mr Oh could just wind up and leave.

He responded that as a business that lasted 3 generations, he owes it to his grandfather to be responsible.

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His words filled Ms Lee with respect for him, making her even more saddened that he still has to end the business after so much effort.

After all, the history of the place can’t be replicated.

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Appealing to netizens for help

While Ms Lee has said she will write in to the SLA to see what can be done to help mitigate the reinstatement costs, she also appealed to netizens for help.

So if anyone has lobang for contractors who can do land reinstatement and returfing for a reasonable fee, do reach out to her.

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In the meantime, Ms Lee said she was privileged to have a final tour of the place, snapping lots of photos, before it’s shut down for good.

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Wishing Mr Oh all the best

While many are helping in their own ways in the fight against Covid-19, let’s not forget food producers like Mr Oh who are ensuring Singaporeans’ food security amid the pandemic.

Now that he’s shutting down, we should also try to provide him as much support as we can.

We hope him and his family can solve their financial worries soon and enjoy a meaningful life after winding down the business.

Featured image adapted from Facebook and Facebook.