Ensuring that urban farmers and food entrepreneurs get support
Why it’s important for the funding and donor communities and policy-makers to invest in urban agriculture
By Danielle Nierenberg
Co-Founder, Food Tank
For the 2013 Urban Agriculture Summit, Linköping, Sweden
More than half of all people in the world live in cities. By 2050, 80 percent of the world’s population will live in urban areas, according to the United Nations. And today, at least 800 million people worldwide participate in some form of urban food production. Finding better ways for farmers and food entrepreneurs to grow food, raise livestock, and process and manufacture food in cities is more important than ever before.
And there are hundreds of initiatives around the world helping urban farmers, businesses, and consumers, find ways to grow, sell, and process food in cities.
In Milwaukee, Growing Power transforms communities by helping youth from diverse backgrounds learn how to grow healthy produce. And Chicago entrepreneur Todd Jones is creating an innovative digital method for mapping small-scale food production with Every Last Morsel, a way for urban growers and consumers to connect with one another.
Farm School NYC offers urban agriculture training to New York City residents through a two-year certificate program as well as a wide range of individual classes taught by experts in the field. And the San Francisco Urban Agriculture Alliance was created to unite urban growers in the Bay area, from backyard farmers to social justice organizations, and help them produce food through collective and collaborative efforts.
The urban agriculture movement isn’t only happening in the U.S, however – it’s growing worldwide. According to the U. N. Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO), by 2030 the urban population of sub-Saharan Africa will reach almost 600 million, double what it was in 2010. Growing Greener Cities in Africa, an FAO initiative, is hoping to meet the ‘zero hunger’ challenge by fostering urban farming in quickly developing African cities. Growing Greener Cities aims to ensure a year-round supply of fresh produce from market gardens at affordable prices.
And the Manzingira Institute and Nairobi and Environs Food Security, Agriculture, and Livestock Forum (NEFSALF) are training a new breed of farmers by offering youth exchange programs that give children and teenagers the opportunity to gain knowledge and practical experience in urban farming activities that will ultimately lead to greater food security and empowerment.
Urban Harvest is a challenge program, created by the Consultative Group on International Agricultural Research (CGIAR), which aims to provide strategic analysis of urban agricultural and policy development to enhance the role of urban agriculture in tackling poverty while also improving public health and sustainability in cities.
It is important that we find ways to ensure that urban farmers and food entrepreneurs get the support, attention, research, and investment they need to raise incomes, reduce malnutrition, decrease urban unemployment, and make cities more livable.