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S’porean siblings plan on becoming farmers & taking over family business after graduation

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Ashley Tan | May 9, 09:07 pm

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You may have heard of an increasing number of millennials taking on “traditional” jobs, especially in the hawker industry.

29-year-young hawker runs satay bee hoon stall at Ci Yuan Fei Xiong Hawker Centre in Hougang

Here’s another pair from the younger generation doing the same, but this time with plans to become bona fide farmers in Singapore.

Unusual career choice

Instead of the cushy office job you might think most millennials would go for, Toh Yingying (left below) and Toh Zhengjie (right below), 23 and 22 years old respectively, have chosen to dedicate their careers to agriculture.

Their family runs Yili Farm, a vegetable farm established in 1996 by their father.

The farm grows their vegetables locally, and distributes them to major supermarket chains like NTUC FairPrice and Sheng Siong.

Both siblings have helped out at the farm since young, and have come to appreciate the life of toil involved in producing food for a land-scarce and import-reliant Singapore, they told the Singapore Food Agency (SFA).

Taking over the family business

Currently, Yingying manages the administrative and marketing portions of the business, while Zhengjie helps out with operations.

However, in order to learn the tricks of the trade, both have to lend a hand in every aspect of the business, ranging from germination to harvesting, packing and liaising with distributors and suppliers.

The Toh siblings are currently undergraduates at a local university, but according to Yili’s website, the business will likely be helmed by them once they graduate.

Along with the impending change in leadership, the siblings also revealed their plans to improve operations via technology.

They will be spearheading the farm’s adoption of “modernised vegetable growing methods”.

Unpredictable weather is one challenge the farm faces, Zhengjie said, as the alternating wet and dry weather could be detrimental to the vegetables.

To resolve this, automated roof curtains which can roll up and down have been outfitted at the farm to protect the plants from the rain.

Yili farm will also soon be moving to a new, larger six hectare plot of land, and will be constructing irrigation systems, greenhouses with fully automated roofing and sensors that can monitor environmental parameters like temperature.

The farm also plans to conduct weekend markets and educational tours at their new space.

Revamping the farm’s brand image

In a bid to appeal more to younger consumers, Yingying has also played a part in helping to revamp the farm’s brand image to something more ‘insta-worthy’.

At previous farmers’ markets, Yili’s vegetables were simply laid out on a plastic sheet on a table. Now, the booth boasts baskets and tablecloths to display the produce, as well as mini chalk signboards.

Yili’s staff now also wear red t-shirts with the slogan “Support Your Local Farmer” as their uniform when selling their wares.

Currently, Yili farm supplies their produce to 30 supermarket outlets in Singapore. Plans to sell their vegetables online are also in the works.

You can find the full list of locations here.

Ying Ying said: “Farming is both a calling and a responsibility. It’s important for Singapore to reduce our reliance on food imports and one way to do it is to support local produce!”

You can view the original Facebook feature by the SFA below:

Top photo and all other photos from Singapore Food Agency (SFA), Facebook

About Ashley Tan

Ashley can't go a week without McDonalds.

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