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CTA. 1996. City farming. Spore 65. CTA, Wageningen, The Netherlands.
Permanent link to this item: http://hdl.handle.net/10568/47447
The belief that cities are for industry and that the countryside is for farming is outdated. Urban farms are a life-saver for millions of urban dwellers worldwide. A recent study of urban farming in 100 cities in 30 countries concludes that one in...
The belief that cities are for industry and that the countryside is for farming is outdated. Urban farms are a life-saver for millions of urban dwellers worldwide. A recent study of urban farming in 100 cities in 30 countries concludes that one in three of the world's urban residents grows food, either for the table or to sell for profit. The study, from the United Nations Development Programme (UNDP), goes on to say that urban agriculture may provide as much as 15% of the world's food, despite the tendency for urban agriculture as an industry to be ignored and often discouraged in the past. This is beginning to change. Roadside farming in Zimbabwe's capital, Harare, was banned until a drought and near famine in 1992, when the ban was lifted. Aerial surveys now show that the area of land under cultivation has doubled since then, providing an essential new source of agricultural produce for urban centres. This change in emphasis can be observed around the world: in Russia, India and the United States of America, for example. The post-apartheid government in South Africa is also investigating and promoting urban farming. In Cuba, street food markets were once banned by the government, and now it is the government who sells seeds and tools to potential urban farmers. The advantages of urban agriculture go far beyond growing food. Through the use of sewage to fertilize crops high yields can be obtained, whilst at the same time as waste is recycled and a major environmental problem is alleviated. In the past there have been concerns about the risks of the use of sewage to nourish urban crops, but UNDP now accepts that these were overestimated. There remain concerns about the toxic nature of heavy metals such as lead, and the report suggests that the risk of food contamination can be reduced if leaf crops such as spinach are not grown on the roadside where levels of lead in the air may be high. Jac Smit UNDP 1 UN Plaza New York 10017 USA