SPORE Magazine: Urban Agriculture – City Farmers
Urban agriculture helps improve nutrition and incomes for city dwellers, providing food grown locally, eliminating transportation from rural areas and creating job opportunities. But it it is crucial to improve health-related practices so that food is safe to eat.
This dossier was compiled with the help of Busani Bafana (Zimbabwe), Isaiah Esipisu (Kenya), Geoffrey Kamadi (Kenya), Wallace Mawire (Zimbabwe), Damion Mitchell (Jamaica), Angella Nabwowe (Uganda), Charles Njeru (Kenya) and Andy Taitt (Barbados).
Tyres and old plastic pots planted with vegetables and sacks rigged up to make vertical gardens. These are just some of the techniques being used by a new generation of urban farmers, who are developing inventive ways to make the most of limited space to produce food. Jennifer Daley lives on the outskirts of the densely populated town of Mandeville in Jamaica. With no access to agricultural land, she uses wheelbarrows and just about anything that can contain soil to grow her crops. Sheila Hope-Harewood farms in a suburban area of the parish of St Michael in what is becoming the newest urban centre in Barbados. She has a drip irrigation system and grows guava, lemon, pomegranate, ackee, sugar apple, mango and banana, as well as a variety of vegetables that she sells at a stall in the local market.
Other ACP farmers are producing livestock in urban settings. Husband and wife John and Betty Msowoya have set up several small fishponds on the outskirts of Mzuzu in Malawi. They also keep a few pigs and use the manure to fertilise their ponds and promote the growth of the fish that they supply to city markets. In Nairobi, Kenya, a number of people who lost their jobs as a result of layoffs have turned to urban chicken farming, making an average of €6 per bird and earning additional income from eggs.
For decades, poverty, food insecurity and malnutrition were viewed as rural problems. But with the populations of many ACP countries becoming more urban, poverty and poor nutrition are emerging as growing challenges for city dwellers. More than half the world’s population now lives in urban areas, and 3 billion more city dwellers are expected by 2050. A recent World Bank and IMF report showed that the growth in urban poverty is now rapidly outstripping that of rural poverty, with the urban poor particularly vulnerable to food price rises since food accounts for 60-70% of their income.