Safeguarding Asia’s future: innovations to keep us eating, drinking healthy (part 2)

19 Apr 2018   

With a team from all walks of life, Edible Garden City builds and maintains edible gardens.

These winners of the DBS Foundation Social Enterprise Grant Programme are making a difference in agriculture

In this series on safeguarding Asia’s future, we look at the innovative solutions being developed by social enterprises supported by the DBS Foundation, through its Social Enterprise Grant Programme The full set of stories is available here.

Edible gardens. Eco-friendly pest control services. Products and service to lower the use of synthetic pesticides. These are some innovative solutions that winners of the 2017 DBS Foundation Social Enterprise Grant Programme are undertaking to improve agriculture in Asia. Read on to find out about the issues they seek to address, their successes and inspirations!

Watch DBS: Food for a Healthy Asian Future 1:41

Edible Garden City

Edible Garden City champions the “grow-your- own-food” movement and reduces food waste by incorporating natural systems with technology such as hydroponics, aquaponics and insect farming.

With a team of people from all walks of life – former engineers and bankers, retirees and adults with special needs, for instance – the social enterprise builds and maintains edible gardens for hotels, schools, restaurants, commercial buildings and private clients.

The enterprise’s first school farm project was with Pathlight School in Singapore – a school for children with autism. The team helped build and maintain the garden, as well as design the farming curriculum for student to receive vocational training in farming.

The goal is to help cities become more self-sufficient by growing food in underused spaces like rooftops and under viaducts. The DBS Foundation’s social enterprise grant will be used to develop and scale microgreens and mushroom production, and for the development of closed-loop agriculture systems.

Co-founder Bjorn Low, who used to work in advertising, shares about Edible Garden City in the video here.

Watch: Edible Garden City 2:46

Pandawa Agri Indonesia

Pandawa Agri Indonesia (PAI) offers research-based products & services to support sustainable agricultural practice in Indonesia. The social enterprise works with farmers to educate them on the negative effects of a high pesticide application, and trains young people as “Agriculture Ambassadors” for sustainable agriculture.

The DBS Foundation’s social enterprise grant will be used to set up a new production facility increasing their capacity to meet market demand. We speak with Kukuh Roxa PH, CEO.

What issues do you seek to address?

We want to reduce the overuse of synthetic pesticides in agriculture by 50%. Countless studies show that a number of pesticides, even when used within legal levels, can cause neurotoxicity and do serious damage to humans, especially children.

Synthetic chemicals also hinder plants’ absorption of essential nutrients and beneficial microbes. Farmers must then use more synthetic fertilisers and pesticides, increasing their cost. In addition, the residue from pesticides also negatively impacts pollinator agents such as bees.

What have been some of your successes?

While regulations have limited the use of pesticides in the palm oil industry, farmers and companies have trouble reducing the levels of synthetic pesticides because the alternatives are not economically scalable. Our innovation can solve this problem.

Our “Weed Solution” and “Pest Solution” can reduce by half the dosage of almost any commonly used pesticide. Our solutions can also offer cost savings up to 30%.

We are doing tests with pesticide researchers and experts from Bogor Agricultural University to prove our products are environmentally-friendly with no toxicity. The soil samples tested show pesticide residue down by more than 50% compared to full pesticide application; in several tests, the residue is not even detected.

We are now trying to expand our impact to staple food and horticulture farmers. Farmers also benefit with less side effects from synthetic pesticides, such as breathing difficulty.


Through eco-friendly pest control services, Justwin, a Taiwanese social enterprise, helps bee farmers improve production while providing safer conditions for bees. With exclusive greenhouse bee rearing technologies, Justwin works to increase healthy bee populations and help farmers break into sustainable farming.

The DBS Foundation’s social enterprise grant will be used to increase production capacity, build awareness on the importance of bees to the environment and food security. We speak with founder Chen Hyun-Iun.

1. What issues does Justwin seek to address?

Chemical pesticides are now being used heavily. They not only pollute the environment but are also not long-term solutions to control pests. We want to change the agriculture sector with the power of biological systems, which can both control pests and protect the environment. They are also a lower- cost long-term investment. Using pest control to achieve ecological balance, sustainable development, is the core of innovation in biotechnology.

2. What inspired you to start Justwin?

When I first started to raise bees for honey, I had a period of heavy use of chemical pesticides. There were mass bee deaths and pests grew resistance to the pesticides. The crop yields were poor and the farmlands became contaminated. So, I started exploring if there are better options to eliminate pests so bees could live better.

For more social enterprises working to make a difference in agriculture, read: Safeguarding Asia’s future: innovations to keep us eating, drinking healthy (part 1).

The DBS Foundation’s Social Enterprise Grant Programme encourages innovation by social enterprises to meet complex social needs. The grant enables social enterprises to develop their prototype into a working model, improve existing processes or add critical capabilities to achieve sustainability, or scale up their existing business that leads to greater social impact. Find out more!