Ethan Arpi

Food for Thought: Urban Agriculture in the Developing World

Urban AgIn the next two decades mass human migrations from rural to urban areas are expected to radically transform the world’s demographic landscape. Much of this migration will take place in the developing world, where rural inhabitants now subsist on small scale farming. As these farmers migrate to urban areas, harnessing their skills through urban agriculture may prove to be one of the most effective ways to alleviate the crippling poverty that many will inevitably face when they finally arrive in cities.

For an academic overview of urban farming in the developing world, I suggest that you check out a paper written by Bettina Baumgartner and Hasan Belevi, two environmental researchers from Switzerland. But if you don?t have time for this thirty-five page report, I have summarized the crux of their argument below.Urban agriculture, they argue, is already an important tool for both income generation and food security in the developing world. Urban farmers, who are predominantly women, now account for a whopping 800 million people world wide. Through the cultivation of a fresh and diverse range of foods, urban farmers consume healthier meals that are rich in proteins and vitamins. Surplus foodstuffs are sold and bartered at local markets, creating supplementary income for farmers. Urban farming also improves resource management, as farmers reuse organic waste to fertilize their crops. And more generally, city farming is a productive way for using urban open space, improving air quality, and greening the city.

Anyone interested in more than just the nuts and bolts of urban agriculture should also check out City Farmer’s news page, which contains a wealth of information about this social experiment being conducted around the world.

World Resources Institute