Forum for Science, Industry and Business

Sponsored by:     3M 
Search our Site:

 

Urban agriculture: Growing food in our cities

23.02.2012
City dwellers have been growing their own food for millennia, but the concept of urban agriculture been formally recognized in research and public policy since the mid 1990s. Canada’s International Development Research Centre (IDRC) has played a leading role in forging this new discipline and raising awareness of it.

In issue 25 of Urban Agriculture Magazine – RUAF 10 years, IDRC program officer and urban agriculture (UA) specialist Luc Mougeot traces the achievements of this young field and the challenges its practitioners face.

Taking the lead

Before the 1990s, interest in unregulated “city farming” had been largely confined to academic research, often conducted by individual scholars who approached UA primarily from the viewpoint of the informal economy. The rising costs of energy and food, water shortages, and worries about food safety shifted the perspective on city farming toward concerns like food security, eco-development, and self-reliance. Later still, it moved toward urban environmental management and sustainability issues such as waste recycling.

In the early 1990s development assistance organizations began placing UA on their agendas. Mougeot traces this growing attention to the 1992 United Nations Conference on Environment and Development (UNCED) in Rio de Janeiro. UNCED’s Agenda 21 plan encouraged local governments to become involved in managing city environments.

In the same year the United Nations Development Programme, as Mougeot puts it, “invited IDRC to take the lead on UA.” IDRC’s efforts accelerated to become a full program of work, highlighted by two phases of its ambitious Cities Feeding People research initiative carried out from 1996 to 2005.

Bearing fruit

Also during that decade, local governments worldwide began paying attention to UA and raising the issue in international forums, particularly the United Nations. One important side-effect of this shift was that the UN system became more receptive to implementing its own initiatives through local authorities rather than only through national central governments.

The field developed rapidly following a 1996 planning meeting, held at IDRC head office, of the international Support Group on Urban Agriculture (SGUA). Many initiatives to build recognition, outreach, and alliances were launched and they soon bore fruit.

Global networks

IDRC and other partners supported the creation of a key global network, the Resource Centres on Urban Agriculture & Food Security (RUAF) Foundation. RUAF fosters policy planning, farmer organization, and business development related to UA. It provides training, technical support, and policy advice to local and national governments, producer organizations, non-governmental organizations, and others.

Meanwhile, IDRC and other donor organizations funded graduate fieldwork, regional courses, and policy research. In addition, both the UN Food and Agriculture Organization and UN Habitat clarified their policies on UA and stepped up their programming.

Those are just a few examples among many more projects and programs that could be cited. As Mougeot sums it up: “The last fifteen years have seen an unprecedented increase and convergence in competence and capacity building, networking and advocacy for regional and global research and policy initiatives.”

Much achieved

Mougeot collects all this activity under four broad achievements:
---growth in research capacity and leadership, including now seeing a broader range of disciplinary fields active in UA, such as urban planning, landscape architecture, and engineering;

---a number of marked shifts in the approach to doing policy research, for instance, from single city to multi-city projects;

---more research and policy aimed at solving specific problems rather than simply gathering information;

---a more inclusive strategy for achieving sustainability that goes beyond the earlier narrow focus on agriculture and poverty reduction.

Measuring true value

Though much has been realized — and in a remarkably short time — many policy and research questions remain.

How, for example, can local UA supply systems ever compete with large corporate multi-national retail food providers?

How can UA be contained in modern urban buildings? Can we design high-rise structures so they will accommodate livestock?

Most importantly, how can we credibly measure the true economic value of UA — in terms of jobs, income, cost avoidance, the productive use of people, land, and resources, — and communicate all these benefits to policymakers?

Isabelle Bourgeault-Tassé | Research asia research news
Further information:
http://www.idrc.ca/EN
http://www.researchsea.com

More articles from Agricultural and Forestry Science:

nachricht Alkaline soil, sensible sensor
03.08.2017 | American Society of Agronomy

nachricht New 3-D model predicts best planting practices for farmers
26.06.2017 | Carl R. Woese Institute for Genomic Biology, University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign

All articles from Agricultural and Forestry Science >>>

The most recent press releases about innovation >>>

Die letzten 5 Focus-News des innovations-reports im Überblick:

Im Focus: Fizzy soda water could be key to clean manufacture of flat wonder material: Graphene

Whether you call it effervescent, fizzy, or sparkling, carbonated water is making a comeback as a beverage. Aside from quenching thirst, researchers at the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign have discovered a new use for these "bubbly" concoctions that will have major impact on the manufacturer of the world's thinnest, flattest, and one most useful materials -- graphene.

As graphene's popularity grows as an advanced "wonder" material, the speed and quality at which it can be manufactured will be paramount. With that in mind,...

Im Focus: Exotic quantum states made from light: Physicists create optical “wells” for a super-photon

Physicists at the University of Bonn have managed to create optical hollows and more complex patterns into which the light of a Bose-Einstein condensate flows. The creation of such highly low-loss structures for light is a prerequisite for complex light circuits, such as for quantum information processing for a new generation of computers. The researchers are now presenting their results in the journal Nature Photonics.

Light particles (photons) occur as tiny, indivisible portions. Many thousands of these light portions can be merged to form a single super-photon if they are...

Im Focus: Circular RNA linked to brain function

For the first time, scientists have shown that circular RNA is linked to brain function. When a RNA molecule called Cdr1as was deleted from the genome of mice, the animals had problems filtering out unnecessary information – like patients suffering from neuropsychiatric disorders.

While hundreds of circular RNAs (circRNAs) are abundant in mammalian brains, one big question has remained unanswered: What are they actually good for? In the...

Im Focus: RAVAN CubeSat measures Earth's outgoing energy

An experimental small satellite has successfully collected and delivered data on a key measurement for predicting changes in Earth's climate.

The Radiometer Assessment using Vertically Aligned Nanotubes (RAVAN) CubeSat was launched into low-Earth orbit on Nov. 11, 2016, in order to test new...

Im Focus: Scientists shine new light on the “other high temperature superconductor”

A study led by scientists of the Max Planck Institute for the Structure and Dynamics of Matter (MPSD) at the Center for Free-Electron Laser Science in Hamburg presents evidence of the coexistence of superconductivity and “charge-density-waves” in compounds of the poorly-studied family of bismuthates. This observation opens up new perspectives for a deeper understanding of the phenomenon of high-temperature superconductivity, a topic which is at the core of condensed matter research since more than 30 years. The paper by Nicoletti et al has been published in the PNAS.

Since the beginning of the 20th century, superconductivity had been observed in some metals at temperatures only a few degrees above the absolute zero (minus...

All Focus news of the innovation-report >>>

Anzeige

Anzeige

Event News

Call for Papers – ICNFT 2018, 5th International Conference on New Forming Technology

16.08.2017 | Event News

Sustainability is the business model of tomorrow

04.08.2017 | Event News

Clash of Realities 2017: Registration now open. International Conference at TH Köln

26.07.2017 | Event News

 
Latest News

Gold shines through properties of nano biosensors

17.08.2017 | Physics and Astronomy

Greenland ice flow likely to speed up: New data assert glaciers move over sediment, which gets more slippery as it gets wetter

17.08.2017 | Earth Sciences

Mars 2020 mission to use smart methods to seek signs of past life

17.08.2017 | Physics and Astronomy

VideoLinks
B2B-VideoLinks
More VideoLinks >>>