A true foodie has emerged amongst us, one who dreams big and responsibly to future-proof the world’s food system, putting safe food on our tables. Hear from Singapore Food Agency (SFA) Scholar Lau Kai Kiat as he shares the motivation behind his commitment to shaping Singapore’s food future and key revelations from his Food Technology studies at Wageningen University & Research, Netherlands.
As responsible inhabitants of Earth, it is in our best interests to prioritise the sustainability of our planet so that future generations can thrive. My focus happens to be in the food sector, specifically in developing solutions to meet food demand without putting the world’s resources or environments at risk. I was excited to study Food Technology, which would open doors to making food production processes more sustainable, amongst other food innovative possibilities.
I decided to apply for the Singapore Sustainability Scholarship (SSS) because tackling sustainability challenges entails a multi-pronged approach, requiring the expertise and cooperation of multiple stakeholders, and the effort by government agencies. As such, I view the scholarship as a partnership with the nation’s public administration, where together we can bring about positive outcomes in Singapore’s food future.
Becoming a part of something bigger than ourselves: The Singapore Sustainability Scholarship, as its name suggests, paves a clear path towards improving Singapore’s sustainability. In today’s climate, where the longevity of our planet is a hot topic, the significance and message that this scholarship carries have never been greater. When you become a part of the sustainability family, your duty transcends your specific expertise, and you see that sustainability involves the efforts of other sectors like tourism and energy. You become a part of something greater than what you set out to specialise.
A comforting yet hair-pulling revelation: I study at Wageningen University, known for attracting students from all over the world. Whilst there are vastly different cultures and mindsets in the school environment, we all share the same hope for sustainability—a core theme of the university. I have learnt that people have different approaches to sustainability. For example, some believe in a top-down approach, where policies would effectively change the mindset of the masses. Others prefer the alternative view of individual actions being the spark for change that would eventually cascade into impacts felt on a global level.
My biggest takeaway from this is that there is no one-size-fits-all solution, which is a comforting yet hair-pulling revelation because you know there is more than one way to approach the problem. But what are the options that would prove to be the best combination? It is exciting to find out.
The reality of having to engage all involved: The university courses teach us to consider stakeholders when tackling a problem. Sustainability is not just about environmental protection. It also involves the economic and social disciplines. Assessing the commercial viability of a solution is crucial because, without financial support or stability, an idea cannot take flight. As for social sustainability, the support of the masses has never been more essential as we see the opinions of individuals becoming increasingly significant.
I’ll be sure to apply this learning in my future professional development and career with SFA, ensuring careful consideration of all stakeholders to realistically achieve sustainability goals—with the support of everyone involved.
Singapore is working towards its “30 by 30” goal— to produce 30% of our nutritional needs locally by 2030. We, as a country, are transitioning into a phase of using technology to create food that serves the needs of the population while keeping production methods sustainable. An example is the launch of alternative protein food products to reduce consumers’ reliance on animal protein. SFA’s role in this is to partner with food businesses to catalyse an industry transformation, of which an area that crucially requires expertise is the technological aspect Vof food innovation.
In my Food Technology course at Wageningen University, we acquire knowledge from the main disciplines of food science, such as food chemistry, which provides a solid foundation to develop new food products. I can envision a future-self contributing technical knowledge in this food innovation domain.
Here’s a final word of advice to aspiring scholars and students. In all aspects of life, stay true to yourself. Find your passion and explore ways to use it to serve the greater good. When considering a scholarship or career, be sure that your aspirations align with the provider or organisation. I chose SFA on these very terms because we both want the same thing—to strengthen Singapore’s sustainability in its food future. And together, in this mutually beneficial partnership, we can bring about positive outcome.
LAU KAI KIAT
Singapore Sustainability Scholarship
From: Anglo-Chinese School (Independent)
Now: Bachelor of Science (Food Technology), Wageningen University & Research