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Hydroponic Farming at Home: How to Grow Safer, Better and Cheaper Food in Your HDB Flat

Did you know you can farm in your HDB flat? Find out how hydroponic farming can help you grow better, safer and cheaper food at home!

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Last week, 131 people in Singapore fell ill with gastroenteritis after consuming food from a catering service, which follows 2 other incidents where about 300 people suffered food poisoning from a restaurant and a different catering service. While eating bento boxes at a conference or going out to restaurants is unavoidable, these incidents to make us wonder if there is a safer way to eat. In fact, there is a way that is not only safer, but also cheaper and better for the environment: hydroponic farming. Having become quite popular in the last few years, hydroponic farming is quite easy for consumers to replicate at the comfort of their homes because it only requires water. Without the need for soil, hydroponic farming eliminates the concerns for pests or messiness. Here, we discuss how Singaporeans can grow their own produce at home while also saving money.

How Much Does Hydroponic Farming at Home Cost?

Hydroponic farming equipments are relatively cheap to acquire, or even to build. A simple search for "hydroponic kits" on Lazada shows a variety of options that range from S$60 to S$160, depending on the size and functionality of the kit. While pricier versions come with better designs and integrated lighting functionality, you can purchase or even build simpler versions like the one pictured above with just pipes, plastic baskets, a water pump, a tube and a source of light (i.e. lamp, window, etc.) for much less. All you really need is a system that circulates water and holes where you can "plant" something with help of a growth media like gravel or even cotton.

Hydroponic KitCost
Small Bigin Indoor Garden with LampS$58.53
8 planting site kitS$58.8
36 planting site kitS$83.3
72 plating site kitS$142.7

Once you have a working hydroponic kit, it's very cheap to operate and grow your own produce at the comfort of your home. The ongoing costs of running your own farm should be about S$5 or less per month, which accounts for seeds, nutrients, electricity and water for 30-45 days it requires to grow most vegetables.

SeedsS$5-S$10 for 100-300 seeds, depending on the produce
Nutrient solutionsS$40 for 2L, can be used for months
ElectricityS$1-S$2/month for water pump and lamp at S$0.26/kwH
WaterS$0.5-S$1/month at S$1.29-S$1.63/1,000L

Potential Savings from Hydroponic Farming

To sum out the previous section, it costs about S$100 to set up a hydroponic kit and another S$5/month to operate it to grow around 36 produces every 45 days. If you were to do this for 1 year, the total cost is approximately S$160 for producing roughly 300 sets of vegetables and fruits. t o assess whether this is a financially good move, we can compare this cost to how much it could help consumers save on what they spend on groceries. According to the government's survey, an average household spends about S$1,334 per month on food and beverage. Even if growing your own veggies could reduce a family's food budget by around 1%, the reduction in grocery bill can help pay for the whole system within the first year, with additional S$100 in savings in each of the subsequent years.

Hydroponic farming in your HDB flat could more than pay for itself within 1-2 years via reducing your grocery bills

Other Benefits of Hydroponic Farming at Home

Hydroponic farming is ideal for apartment dwellers without much space due to their compact & vertical structure and the lack of need for soil. Besides the spatial and economic advantages, however, hydroponic farming also has many other benefits for consumers. First, growing with hydroponics is known to greatly increase the rate of growth of plants, sometimes helping them mature to 25% faster and produce up to 30% more than the same plants grown in soil. Not only that, since it doesn't require using fertilizers or pesticides, it tends to be much safer for the environment. Finally, your produces will also be much more delicious and fresher because you can wait to harvest them until they are fully ripe; commercially produced vegetables and fruits often have to be harvested early so that they can be transported to stores. If you are interested in trying farming at your flat, leafy greens like lettuce, kale, spinach and small but "water friendly" root plants like radishes, onions, carrots and strawberries are the easiest to grow in a hydroponic garden.

Save Even More on Your Farming & Food Costs Through Credit Card Rewards

If you are looking to save even more on setting up your hydroponic farming, it'll be a good idea to try and build your own. There are a lot of instructions and manuals available online, most of which can be completed with simple components you can easily purchase. Whether you decide to build your own or purchase one, using a credit card to make the purchase can help you rack up a lot of reward miles or rebates, especially since it will be a relatively big purchase. There are many cards that can earn rebates on online shopping and even on utilities, so you can earn rewards on the initial set up and while operating your home water farm. Furthermore, some of these cards can also be used as grocery credit cards to reduce your food costs even further. For example, OCBC 365 Card and UOB One Card both provide rebates on online shopping, monthly bills and groceries.

Duckju Kang

Duckju is the Senior Vice President of ValueChampion Singapore. He covers the financial services industry, consumer finance products, budgeting, and investing. He previously worked in the financial services industry, including at such hedge funds as Tiger Asia and Cadian Capital.

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