Urban Agriculture and its Importance to the Society

By 2030, it is estimated that half of the world’s population will be living in urban areas. As a result, productive farmland of millions of acres will be lost due to housing and other such usage. A major section of the rural population will be migrating towards the urban areas with little formal education. It’ll be resulting in unemployment and an increased rate in the crime rate. To prevent such a scenario to happen, urban agriculture may be the perfect solution.

Growing of plants and the raising of animals in and around the cities is what urban agriculture is made up of. Its features also include:

  1. Using the urban residents as laborers
  2. Using urban resources like urban waste water and organic waste
  3. Impact on the urban ecology (both positive and negative)
  4. Using the food system
  5. Influenced by urban plans and policies

Further specifications can be done on the basis of the characters involved, location, products grown, economic activities, market orientation, technology and production used.

Urban Agriculture

Types of characters

Urban poor dominates this scene mostly. One will also get to see a lot of lower and mid-level officials of the government involved in this form of agriculture. School teachers raise their voice for this form and rich and influential from the society invests their capital. Among the urban farmers, women constitute a major part. It is because agriculture and the related activities (processing and selling) can be quite an easy one with them getting involved in the household.

Types of location

This form of agriculture takes place inside the city areas. Private land, off-plot (land away from the residential areas), on-plot (homestead), public land (conservation areas, streams, railways and parks) or semi-public (hospitals, school grounds and school yards).

Types of products

Food products grown in this form can differ according to the type of crops (root crops, vegetables, fruits, mushrooms, grains etc) and animals (rabbits, goats, poultry, sheep, pigs, fish, cattle etc). It also includes non-food products (medicinal and aromatic herbs, tree products, ornamental plants etc). Production units in this form of agriculture are more specialized than the ones in the rural enterprises.

Economic activities involved

Agricultural production activities, apart from processing and related marketing activities are involved in this type of agriculture as well as service delivery and inputs by NGO’s or specialized micro-enterprises. The production and marketing of urban agriculture is far more interrelated than the rural one in terms of space and time. It is due to the quick flow of resources and greater geographic proximity.

Market orientation

Self-consumption plays an important role in urban agriculture, with the surpluses getting traded. Importance of market orientation (both in economic value and volume) should not be ignored. Food products are sold in local shops, local markets, supermarkets or to intermediaries.

Technology and production used

As far as the technology is concerned, its usage in these enterprises is rather low in developing countries. But major cities are inclining towards technically intensive and advanced agriculture.