Forum for Science, Industry and Business

Sponsored by:     3M 
Search our Site:

 

“UrbanFoodPlus” - A contribution towards food security in West African cities

08.05.2013
Animal husbandry in radial streets and intensive vegetable farming in river beds: A research project led by the Universities of Kassel and Bochum wants to make a contribution towards the systematic development of the potential for urban food production.

Due to the low level of soil fertility and the limited availability of water, the food situation in Africa is more serious than on any other continent. However, the people meet these challenges with an inventive spirit and much improvisation, in order to utilise all available resources.

Neglected for decades in terms of politics and science, the intensive cultivation of urban areas and the areas surrounding them makes an important contribution with regard to the income and food security of poor population groups, whilst at the same time carrying health and environmental risks. The goal of the “UrbanFoodPlus” project, which is coordinated by the University of Kassel and the Ruhr University, Bochum, is to understand, to boost, and to optimise the various forms of urban farming.

Agricultural scientists and soil specialists, working together with economists, wastewater engineers, ethnologists from Göttingen and geographers from Freiburg, develop interdisciplinary approaches to unlocking the full potential of the growing of staple foods and vegetables, and of animal husbandry, in farming niches of urban areas and the surrounding areas. The Federal Ministry of Education and Research (BMBF) will supply 4.3 million Euros over the next three years. This is a portion of the total of 7.5 million Euros that will be made available over a period of five years.

Currently, 90% of the vegetable requirements and up to one third of the entire food requirements of urban areas in African is self-grown, emphasises Prof. Andreas Bürkert, coordinator of the “UrbanFoodPlus” project: “The people use areas beside radial roads between housing blocks, in dry riverbeds or on other wasteland. This is usually illegal, but often more labour and surface efficient than classical production in rural areas.“ The fields and pastures attain sizes from 500m² to 10 hectares, and they are extremely important to the city dwellers. Nevertheless, they are threatened with destruction: “Because they are illegal, the authorities often send bulldozers to destroy the field crops”, comments Bürkert.

Bürkert goes on to explain that the producers of food are often migrants who have brought knowledge of agriculture and animal husbandry with them from the rural areas. In contrast to the rural farmers, they are much closer to the markets and can therefore adjust their production and harvest according to demand, and incur no transport losses. “For a long time, scientists were so concerned with the hinterland, thereby neglecting the issue of urban food production – which is efficient, but still offers far greater possibilities for increased yields. We must tap this potential too, if we are to keep abreast of population increases”, explains Bürkert. The UNO expects the population of Africa, which is currently one billion, to more or less double by 2050.

Together with 14 African partner institutes and two agricultural research institutes, whose involvement is being supported by the Federal Ministry of Economic Cooperation and Development (BMZ) to the tune of an additional 400,000 Euros, “UrbanFoodPlus” will be developing measures to increase food production in urban areas and their surrounds, to increase resource efficiency and to improve the food situation as of June 2013. By means of certification measures, they intend to bring together the quality demands of consumers and producers. Based on the data captured, the scientists, working together with the farmers’ organisations and local authorities, want to gain better understanding of the poverty-fighting effects of this form of farming, in order to keep it within legal limits.

Initial field research takes place in Ouagadougou/Burkina Faso and Tamale/Ghana, and will then be extended to other West African cities. The trials will include small-scale crop-growing experiments, questioning of growers, sellers and administration representatives. There will also be extensive training measures on simple technological innovations, including the use of charcoal both as a water filter and an organic fertilizer.

The scheme is divided into several project groups. A working group led by Bürkert is examining biodiversity, food efficiency, flow of materials and certification measures in vegetable production. Prof. Schlecht (University of Kassel and Georg August University, Göttingen), leads a project group that is analysing the efficiency of animal husbandry systems; this includes both the use of stock-feeds, and the utilisation of accumulating dung. Other project groups led by Prof. Marschner and Prof. Wichern (both from the Ruhr University, Bochum) determine the influence of natural fertilizers and household waste water on soil quality and product hygiene, aspects of food security, socio-political frame conditions (Prof. Schareika, University of Göttingen) and possible politico-economical profits derived from the suggested improvements (Prof. Löwenstein, University of Bochum). “Hereby, we want to take sociological and politico-economical consequences into account”, says Bürkert: “How do these urban economic cycles lower the risk of poverty? What part do the women play and how does their task in raising food security influence their role in society? What significance does this type of farming have, especially for ethnic minorities in society?” Prof. Drescher of the University of Freiburg concerns himself with this matter in particular.

The “Exceed-Zentrum” International Center for Development and Decent Work (ICDD) of the University of Kassel is closely involved in the organisation of the project.
Within the “UrbanFoodPlus” project, an international Graduation School for junior scientists from Germany, Europe and Africa will be established to which 15 PhD grants and seven PhD positions are attached. This graduation school will be coordinated by Prof. Bernd Marschner, head of the Faculty of Soil Science and Soil Ecology at the University of Bochum. The college thereby also makes a contribution to the scientific exchange between Africa and Europe.

The “UrbanFoodPlus” project is part of the support programme of “GlobE – Global Food Security” of the BMBF.
Contact:
Prof. Andreas Bürkert
University of Kassel
Section Organic Plant Production and Agroecosystems Research
in the Tropics and Subtropics
http://www.uni-kassel.de/fb11agrar/en/sections/opats/home.html
Tel.: +49 5542 98 1228
E-Mail: buerkert@uni-kassel.de

Sebastian Mense | idw
Further information:
http://www.uni-kassel.de
http://www.uni-kassel.de/fb11agrar/en/sections/opats/home.html

More articles from Agricultural and Forestry Science:

nachricht New insight into why Pierce's disease is so deadly to grapevines
11.06.2018 | University of California - Davis

nachricht Where are Europe’s last primary forests?
29.05.2018 | Humboldt-Universität zu Berlin

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: Temperature-controlled fiber-optic light source with liquid core

In a recent publication in the renowned journal Optica, scientists of Leibniz-Institute of Photonic Technology (Leibniz IPHT) in Jena showed that they can accurately control the optical properties of liquid-core fiber lasers and therefore their spectral band width by temperature and pressure tuning.

Already last year, the researchers provided experimental proof of a new dynamic of hybrid solitons– temporally and spectrally stationary light waves resulting...

Im Focus: Overdosing on Calcium

Nano crystals impact stem cell fate during bone formation

Scientists from the University of Freiburg and the University of Basel identified a master regulator for bone regeneration. Prasad Shastri, Professor of...

Im Focus: AchemAsia 2019 will take place in Shanghai

Moving into its fourth decade, AchemAsia is setting out for new horizons: The International Expo and Innovation Forum for Sustainable Chemical Production will take place from 21-23 May 2019 in Shanghai, China. With an updated event profile, the eleventh edition focusses on topics that are especially relevant for the Chinese process industry, putting a strong emphasis on sustainability and innovation.

Founded in 1989 as a spin-off of ACHEMA to cater to the needs of China’s then developing industry, AchemAsia has since grown into a platform where the latest...

Im Focus: First real-time test of Li-Fi utilization for the industrial Internet of Things

The BMBF-funded OWICELLS project was successfully completed with a final presentation at the BMW plant in Munich. The presentation demonstrated a Li-Fi communication with a mobile robot, while the robot carried out usual production processes (welding, moving and testing parts) in a 5x5m² production cell. The robust, optical wireless transmission is based on spatial diversity; in other words, data is sent and received simultaneously by several LEDs and several photodiodes. The system can transmit data at more than 100 Mbit/s and five milliseconds latency.

Modern production technologies in the automobile industry must become more flexible in order to fulfil individual customer requirements.

Im Focus: Sharp images with flexible fibers

An international team of scientists has discovered a new way to transfer image information through multimodal fibers with almost no distortion - even if the fiber is bent. The results of the study, to which scientist from the Leibniz-Institute of Photonic Technology Jena (Leibniz IPHT) contributed, were published on 6thJune in the highly-cited journal Physical Review Letters.

Endoscopes allow doctors to see into a patient’s body like through a keyhole. Typically, the images are transmitted via a bundle of several hundreds of optical...

All Focus news of the innovation-report >>>

Anzeige

Anzeige

VideoLinks
Industry & Economy
Event News

Munich conference on asteroid detection, tracking and defense

13.06.2018 | Event News

2nd International Baltic Earth Conference in Denmark: “The Baltic Sea region in Transition”

08.06.2018 | Event News

ISEKI_Food 2018: Conference with Holistic View of Food Production

05.06.2018 | Event News

 
Latest News

Creating a new composite fuel for new-generation fast reactors

20.06.2018 | Materials Sciences

Game-changing finding pushes 3D-printing to the molecular limit

20.06.2018 | Materials Sciences

Could this material enable autonomous vehicles to come to market sooner?

20.06.2018 | Materials Sciences

VideoLinks
Science & Research
Overview of more VideoLinks >>>