FAO promotes urban horticulture as part of Greener Cities program
Growing fruit and vegetables in and around cities increases the supply of fresh, nutritious produce and improves the urban poor’s economic access to food
FAO urban projects in: Plurinational State of Bolivia, Burundi, Colombia, Democratic Republic of the Congo, Guatemala, Namibia, Nicaragua, Rwanda, Senegal, Venezuela. Details here.
Fruit and vegetables are the richest natural sources of micronutrients. But in developing countries, daily fruit and vegetable consumption is just 20-50 percent of FAO/World Health Organization (WHO) recommendations. Urban meals rich in low-cost fats and sugars are also responsible for rising levels of obesity and overweight. In India, diet-related chronic diseases, such as diabetes, are a growing health problem, and mainly in urban areas.
Urban and peri-urban horticulture helps developing cities meet all those challenges. First, it boosts the physical supply of fresh, nutritious produce, available year round. Second, it improves the urban poor’s economic access to food when their household production of fruit and vegetables reduces their food bills, and when growers earn a living from sales.
Urban food security
Intensive horticulture production on urban peripheries makes sense. But as cities grow, valuable agricultural land is lost to housing, industry and infrastructure (Accra eats up an estimated 2 600 hectares of farm land every year). Result: production of fresh food is being pushed further into rural areas. The cost of transport, packing and refrigeration, the poor state of rural roads, and heavy losses in transit add to the scarcity and cost of fruit and vegetables in urban markets.
That is why China has integrated food production into urban development since the 1960s. Today, more than half of Beijing’s vegetable supply comes from the city’s own market gardens, and it costs less than produce trucked from more distant areas. Horticulture in and around Hanoi produces more than 150 000 tonnes of fruit and vegetables a year. In Cuba, which has promoted intensive UPH since the early 1990s, the sector accounts for 60 percent of horticultural production – and Cubans’ per capita intake of fruit and vegetables exceeds the FAO/WHO recommended minimum.
FAO projects help governments and city administrations to optimize policies, institutional frameworks and support services for Urban Horticulture, and to improve horticultural production and marketing systems. See projects here.