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Dutch group looks at metropolitan agriculture

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Excerpts from the Metropolitan Agriculture website:

What is metropolitan agriculture?

Many farmers perceive the city as a threat to agriculture. The encroachment of urbanisation places pressure on farmland, while the great concentration of people in activities leads to stiff competition for water, nutrients and energy. In addition large groups of urban consumers are becoming ever more demanding about their food and the way in which it is produced. Equally, many urban dwellers have a romanticised idea of agriculture that no longer squares with present-day reality. The concern over animal diseases and environmentally-polluting activities means that many urban dwellers would prefer to see the exclusion of agricultural activities from their metropolitan environment.

Agriculture and the city appear to have lost their connection. Metropolitan agriculture is a vision that re-establishes and even strengthens that connection. The concept is based on the idea that the metropolitan environment in fact offers huge opportunities for the more sustainable development of agriculture, and that at the same time agriculture offers great opportunities for the more sustainable development of those metropolitan areas. We therefore refer to all forms of agriculture conducted in a metropolitan environment and that are explicitly directed towards the various needs of the urban population and make use of the urban characteristics of that environment as metropolitan agriculture.

From urban agriculture to metropolitan agriculture

The first workshop was held at the Gordon Institute for Business Science in Johannesburg, South Africa, on Friday 13 November 2009. Workshops in five other world cities are to follow shortly. The workshops are the foundation meetings of the Metropolitan Agriculture Innoversity. The Metropolitan Agriculture vision and the Innoversity initiative have been received highly enthusiastically in Johannesburg.

According to the participants in the Johannesburg workshop, food security is the biggest sustainability problem in Johannesburg. In response to the problem, food gardens are being established all over the city where organic crops are being grown for the immediate environment. These are good examples of urban agriculture, but there are also clear shortcomings. There is, for example, generally a lack of linkage with the market, the initiatives depend heavily on subsidies and the initiatives are on an insufficient scale to act as a partner for other players in the agricultural system.

Precisely for this reason the concept of metropolitan agriculture offered the participants fresh inspiration. Despite the major differences from the situation in the Netherlands it turned out during the workshop that the same obstacles towards innovation were being faced in Johannesburg as in the Netherlands. The metropolitan agriculture vision has inspired the workshop participants; multidisciplinary teams are to be set up in the coming months to tackle the problem on a joint basis. Further workshops are to be held in the coming months in Sao Paulo, Chennai, Detroit, London and Amsterdam.

In the spring the teams from the various cities will be meeting up in order to learn from one another how metropolitan agriculture is contributing to the sustainable development of their cities. Further information on the MetroAg Innoversity may be obtained by downloading the brochure. For more detailed information see the website of the MetroAg Innoversity.

Metropolitan Agriculture Innoversity

This is the umbrella website of the Metropolitan Agriculture Innoversity, an initiative on the part of TransForum and REOS Partners in London. The MetroAg Innoversity is an action-oriented network that is looking for answers at international level to the question as to how agriculture can contribute towards more sustainable development in metropolitan areas. In the Innoversity various parties are experimenting with Metropolitan Agriculture in their cities through the implementation of new innovation projects.

The participants are drawn from agro-industry, governments, knowledge institutes and societal groups in the various world cities. They share their experience with other cities and so contribute to the worldwide development and embedding of the metropolitan agriculture vision. The cities that are already participating in the network are Amsterdam, Chennai, Detroit/Flint, London, Johannesburg and Sao Paulo. The first meetings of the MetroAg Innoversity were held in November in Johannesburg and Sao Paulo.

A workshop in Chennai followed on 22 December, while Detroit, London and Amsterdam will follow in the next two months. In the spring the teams from the various cities will be sharing their experiences with a view to learning from one another. The IAMA (International Food and Agribusiness Management Organisation) recently devoted attention to the Innoversity in its newsletter.

Visit the Metropolitan Agriculture website here.

Care Farming

Care farming is a leading example of metropolitan agriculture. The agricultural sector help provide a solution to urban problems and create a source of income for farmers based on the demands and needs of the urban population. A fruitful interaction to the benefit of urban communities and farmers alike.