Urban farming and food
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CTA. 2005. Urban farming and food. Rural Radio Resource Pack 05/5. Wageningen, The Netherlands: CTA.
Permanent link to this item: http://hdl.handle.net/10568/57385
Ham Onsando, a restaurant owner and member of the Global Food Safety organisation, describes risks from dirty irrigation water used in urban farming, and other food risks facing urban consumers.
Urban farming and food Cue: Urban agriculture - the growing of crops and keeping of livestock in cities ? is increasingly popular in many parts of Africa, both as a means for generating income, and as a way for urban households to supplement their diets. However, one challenge facing urban farming is how to access water for irrigation. While some families may harvest rainwater from their rooftops, many urban farmers depend on less clean sources of water, including polluted rivers and drainage channels. This creates a danger to health, both for the farmers themselves, who risk catching infections from the water, and for consumers who buy their produce. So how can consumers protect themselves, and what can be done to ensure that produce grown in urban areas is as safe as possible? To find out, Eric Kadenge went to a restaurant owned by food safety expert Mr Ham Onsando. Apart from his restaurant business, Mr Onsando also works for Global Food Safety, an organisation which helps restaurants and food processors to improve their safety standards. He began by explaining the risk to food safety from the use of contaminated irrigation water. IN: ?There is a very interesting situation ? OUT: ? Thank you very much.? DUR?N 4?35? BACK ANNOUNCEMENT: Mr Ham Onsando, of the organisation Global Food Safety, talking to Eric Kadenge. Transcript Onsando There is a very interesting situation that we find ourselves, especially in Nairobi and the urban setting. You have got your domestic shambas (gardens), you have got people who grow food by riversides, by drainage systems. A lot of these obviously have an element of risk. More so when we know that a lot of the effluent that leaves our houses finds its way into these rivers, into the drainage system on the way out. If you go into the industrial area, a lot of organizations there are pumping chemicals into these same scenarios that then end up possibly contaminating the produce that we get from these farmers. Kadenge It is actually quite scary especially during the days when it?s very rainy because you will find that the sewage water and all the other rain water gets mixed up. Onsando I have got a classic example of one. On my way home I always drive by him, he?s got a little sukuma wiki (kales) patch, and I know he gets his water from the drainage that runs by the little patch. There are issues in terms of what contaminants he is actually transferring on to the produce. The produce looks good, but you have then got to be aware of ? because of where it is grown - there is a risk and because of that risk there are ways you have got to address it. So you have got to cook it thoroughly, make sure you wash it thoroughly etc. So the steps to actually secure your own safety in terms of the consumer are easy to achieve. It is just washing thoroughly and then cooking thoroughly. That would normally get rid of the kind of contaminants we are dealing with in the urban area. But in that backdrop as well, we have got a mushrooming up of more informal eating areas as well. Nowadays you walk down the street and you can buy fruit salad ready to eat. You don?t know where the fruits have been washed, you don?t know whether the guy washed his hands before peeling the fruit, before chopping; we know so little about the food we are eating. Kadenge And how do you think then that some of these risks could be minimized or prevented especially from the farmer?s perspective? Onsando One of the biggest things we need is legislation. Legislation in the sense that farmers who draw water from rivers or from bore-holes have a right to know what kind of pollutants could have gotten into that water. Now legislation on industries, big industry players, we need legislation that will control what they can spew out into rivers. We need legislation that controls what pesticides farmers can use and in what quantities. Kadenge Let?s talk about the consumer. How should I as a consumer get to know about these risks? Onsando Education on food risks when you are eating is very key. But from my perspective any time you eat in a restaurant ? even if you have the slightest discomfort, four hours, three hours after eating, complain. Go back to that restaurant and complain. Say they caused you to have a sleepless night, they caused you to have diarrhea ? complain. Consumers have to be aware of their rights and I think the media has a role to play in that and maybe we should be running more consumer awareness programs and inviting people to tell the consumer what is his right as a consumer. Kadenge And lastly then, what word would you have in regards to the contamination of water that is used for irrigation in urban settings like Nairobi? Onsando Other than touting a lot for legislation, I would also like to ask the industry players, the guys who are actually spewing out a lot of waste water into our ecosystem. They should actually take it upon themselves and they should ask themselves ?Is what I am doing good for the environment?? Because ultimately, they might think that they will drive home in their big cars and go into their posh neighbourhoods and it will not affect them. But ultimately whatever we do to the environment affects us. Nature has got a nasty way of coming right round back and hitting at us. Kadenge Okay thank you very much for taking your time to talk to us. Is this my cup of tea? Onsando Yes, enjoy your cup of tea, it is very safe - purified water! Kadenge Thank you very much. End of track.