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West Bengal State Agriculture Commission reports on UA and UPA


Urban and Peri-Urban Agriculture (UA and UPA)
West Bengal State Agriculture Commission – Government of West Bengal
March 2009
Annexure Item 20, page 725


With rapid urbanization in the past few decades, already half the world population lives in towns and cities. These occupy less than 2% of the earth’s surface, but use 75% of the earth’s resources. The per capita resource consumption of urban areas is thus 3 times that of rural areas. Considering the alarming rate of depletion and degradation of natural resources, the sustainability of the present path of urbanization, with its high ‘ecological footprint’, is questionable, even in the medium term.

The current volatile state of global affairs can also rapidly telescope the time frame under consideration. Urban and peri-urban agriculture, and related sustainability issues, may then suddenly become urgent concerns for meeting basic survival needs. Cuba faced such a crisis – of severe fuel and food scarcity – following the Soviet collapse and the tightening of the US embargo. But even discounting any abrupt ‘disaster scenario’, the rationale for proactively planning and supporting sustainable urban and peri-urban agriculture is compelling.

Global Overview

The growing of food in backyard plots and in public and private open spaces of cities and their peripheries, was historically common throughout the world. Though largely overlooked as a subject of serious study or public policy support, such urban and peri-urban agriculture began to revive since the 1970s.

It has been mainly since the 1980s, and particularly the early 1990s, that urban agriculture has received significant international attention, with the United Nations Development Program (UNDP) undertaking a worldwide investigation, culminating in the publication, ‘Urban Agriculture: Food, Jobs, and Sustainable Cities’ (1996), and the founding of ‘The Urban Agriculture Network’ (TUAN).

See the complete article “Annexure Item 20” here. Download article 15 and scroll to Item 20.