Urban farming

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A city farm in Chicaco

An urban area has higher density of population compared to surrounding areas and is usually a town or a city. Urban farming or agriculture is cultivation/growing, processing of crops in and around a city or a town. The raising of livestock, horticulture, poultry and aquaculture within a city or a surrounding area also comes under urban farming.

FAO definition

Urban agriculture has been defined by The Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations (FAO), as: “ An industry that produces, processes and markets food and fuel, largely in response to the daily demand of consumers within a town, city, or metropolis, on land and water dispersed throughout the urban and peri-urban area, applying intensive production methods, using and reusing natural resources and urban wastes to yield a diversity of crops and livestock.”

The importance of urban farming

Economic importance

City agriculture creates employment opportunities by expanding the economic base of the city. There is production and processing of agricultural products within the city. Further with the reduction in cost of transportation, there is reduction in the cost of the produce and the consumer enjoys fresh and high quality products. Women in the cities can get substantial income in taking up agriculture as a part time activity. This can also be done on a community level utilizing open spaces within the cities. In the well-established community program at Seattle's P-Patches, produce worth 1.25 million dollars is cultivated annually.

Social importance

Urban farming can give impetus to local systems by creating an infrastructure for the community to produce and process food products and transfer them from the producers to consumers within the city.

In these community-based agriculture projects, the farmers can grow food in their individual plots, sharing common infrastructures like tools and machinery. Alternatively farmers can grow produce in private holdings, kitchen gardens and roof tops.

Benefits of urban farming

The system is complex covering a wide range of interests. Though its main core activities comprise cultivation, production, harvest, processing, distribution and marketing many more benefits are acknowledged. The role of city farming as an recreational and leisure activity adds to the health and wellness of the concerned individuals and infuses economic vitality into the system. Further it has a positive effect on the environment removing some of the pollutants. A well planed urban farming project can be sustainable and make the cities more self reliant in their food requirements.

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Author: Mahmood Syed Faheem
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