Dec 16, 2013

United Nations: Urban agriculture strengthens the urban poor against hunger and poverty

With towns and cities growing ever faster, it's estimated that in 2050 over 80% of the world population will live in urban areas. This process is accompanied by a higher demand for food in an area that has less and less space to produce it. Many poor families in urban areas are already finding it harder to purchase sufficient food to satisfy their needs and are implementing several methods of urban farming to cope.

Recent studies by Zezza and Tasciotti (2010) have shown that the urban poor are spending a higher percentage of money on food than they used to. The main victim of the recent financial crisis also turned out to be the urban poor. They are finding it harder and harder to resist external economic shocks and improve their access to fresh and healthy foods.
Poor families living in rural areas appear to have easier access to fresh and healthy food, due to the fact that they have an easier access to multiple forms of agriculture.

Bringing agriculture into urban areas through the means of aquaponics, hydroponics, vertical farming, etc. would allow the urban poor to increase their resilience against external economic shocks and would provide them with a cheap source of healthy and fresh products.
This method would be especially effective in areas in which infrastructure and heavy losses add to the cost of importing goods. Excluding these losses would provide the inhabitants of the urban community with a cheaper source of food.

While urban agriculture is only finding its roots in Western countries, its more conventionalized in several low-income countries such as Malawi, Nepal and Pakistan. Even in some countries which are more developed such as Panama, the urban poor are using urban farming to supplement their income and protect themselves from economic shocks.

Although the impact of urban farming might be small on a macro economic scale, it shows great benefits for some groups within society. 

In a brochure by the United Nations' Food and Agriculture Organisation, they recommend policy makers to be aware of the benefits of urban farming on the economic situation of the urban poor and for its positive effects on pollution by removing the transportation of food from distant areas. They advice that policy makers carefully weigh their options in this respect and create a legal window for urban farming.

Source: (link)

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