Urban Agriculture

Mains Marks Booster     4th August 2023        
output themes

Urban Agriculture 

Also called urban gardening or urban farming, it refers to the practice of cultivating crops, raising animals, or growing food in urban areas. It involves utilizing available urban spaces such as rooftops, balconies, community gardens, and vacant lots for agricultural purposes.

Significance 

Urban Agriculture
  • Food security: Urban agriculture can help to increase access to fresh, healthy, and locally-grown food.
  • Environmental benefits: Urban agriculture can help to reduce greenhouse gas emissions by reducing the distance that food needs to travel, helps to mitigate the effects of urban heat islands.
  • Economic Benefits: By creating job opportunities, supporting small-scale businesses, and stimulating the local economy by supporting farmers' markets, urban farm-to-table initiatives, and agri-tourism.
  • Health benefits: Urban agriculture can provide opportunities for physical activity and can also help to promote healthy eating habits.
  • Resilience: Urban agriculture can help communities to become more resilient in the face of natural disasters or other disruptions to the food system.
  • Urban Revitalization: By transforming vacant lots into productive and aesthetically pleasing areas. For eg, Guerrilla gardening initiatives beautify abandoned urban spaces. 

Challenges of urban agriculture 

Challenges of urban agriculture 

  • Land Availability and Cost: High land prices and competition for space make it difficult to establish large-scale farms. For eg, Rising land prices, as seen in the case of Vadicherla, Telangana, make urban agriculture economically unviable.
  • Soil quality: Urban soils may be contaminated with pollutants, making it difficult to grow healthy crops without proper remediation.
  • Access to resources: Access to resources such as water, seeds, and tools, which may be difficult to obtain in urban areas.
  • Zoning and regulatory challenges: Urban agriculture may face zoning and regulatory challenges, such as restrictions on land use or limitations on the sale of produce.
  • Lack of knowledge and skills: Many urban residents may lack the knowledge and skills needed to start and maintain an urban farm.
  • Financial constraints: Urban agriculture may require significant upfront investment in infrastructure and equipment, which may be a barrier for some individuals or communities.

Best practices 

  • "Terrace Farmer Project" in Chennai- Promotes water-wise practices.
  • "Namma Bhoomi" initiative of Bengaluru- Converts underutilized government land into community gardens. 
  • "Urban Agriculture Policy" of Bengaluru to integrate urban farming into the city's master plan.
  • "Raitara Mitra" initiative in Hyderabad- Encourages urban farming through community participation.
  • Pune- In 2008, Pune’s civic administration launched a city farming project to train and encourage people to take up farming on allocated land.
  • Tamil Nadu-In 2014, the Tamil Nadu government introduced a “do-it-yourself” kit for city dwellers to grow vegetables on rooftops, houses and apartment buildings under its Urban Horticulture Development Scheme. 
  • Bihar- Since 2021, Bihar encourages terrace gardening in five smart cities through subsidy for input cost.

The growing urban population, climate change, and the scarcity of natural resources are major world-wide challenges. In the coming years, we must ensure that more food is available to feed Earth’s growing population and in this urban agriculture would be big saviour.

Samadhaan