Urban Agriculture in Naga City, Philippines – Cultivating Sustainable Livelihoods
Planning Report for Naga City Council June 2007
Kathryn Hill, Department of Geography, UBC
Dee Dee Quinnelly, School of Community and Regional Planning, UBC
Kaitlin Kazmierowski, School of Community and Regional Planning, UBC
Naga is a mid-size city of 150,000 residents in Bicol region, central Philippines. It is internationally and nationally renowned as among the ‘best practices’ in good local governance in the Philippines and in the developing world.
Naga City currently sits in an interesting position with regards to local UA (urban agriculture) practices. Despite being enclosed by rich agricultural lands, encroaching development and social stigmatization of farmers pose serious threats to the future of local agriculture in the city.
Local UA initiatives, while present in peri-urban areas are less visible within the city itself. This invisibility has often resulted in exclusion of small-scale UA practices from the public and political consciousness.
This project was aimed at understanding how UA could be developed and promoted in Naga City, as a viable livelihood option to enhance agricultural productivity and conserve lands critical for sustainable food security.
Mixed-method qualitative research led to the realization that Naga City possesses great potential to serve as a showcase city for innovative UA practices, simply by capitalizing on its current assets. Through greater collaboration with various stakeholders (farmers, citizens, students and community groups), city officials can undertake socio-economic and environmental assessments, listen to local recommendations and create enabling legislation that will not only increase UA lands in Naga, but actively conserve current agricultural lands under threat, promote alternative livelihoods, strengthen local economies and educate and empower all citizens. Building upon the city’s solid political and agricultural foundations, UA has the potential to flourish within Naga’s urban and peri-urban landscape if informed by collaborative multi-stakeholder processes and participatory policy creation.
“The Naga Farming School”: A Collaborative Multi-Stakeholder Pilot Project
To conclude, we would like to suggest a possible project, “The Naga Farming School”, which will assist in cultivating a healthy and sustainable UA system in Naga.
An excellent means for generating discussion and collaboration around UA would be through the design, planning and construction of a Naga Farming School. The school would be a pilot project, showcasing all components of an ideal UA initiative in Naga City. The school itself would comprise of a multipurpose building with attached communal gardening plot. Ideally, the site would be on rehabilitated vacant lands which were given over to UA through landowner incentives and enabling policies. The design and planning of the site would take place through collaborative processes between all stakeholders, thus showcasing the city’s ability to listen to all voices and value the knowledge of local people. The garden plots could demonstrate chemical free technologies, act as venues for workshops, and be run by local urban farmers or trained out of school youth. The multi purpose building could be the site for information sessions, workshops, classes, drop-ins, community dinners, cottage industry markets and festivals. The multi-purpose building could also serve as a site for technologies such as vertical gardening, container planting, roof-top gardening, water recycling (rain barrels, etc), and education information associated with these. Health and environmental workshops could also be held here as a means of providing a holistic view of UA and helping the community see the connections between healthy food, healthy bodies and sustainable agriculture. Finally, the centre itself could me constructed for local materials in order to support local industries and promote sustainability to a wider audience.