Urban Agriculture Evolution and its Benefits for Communities
Urban farming, which basically means producing and processing food within an urban setting, has loads of benefits. The practice started as a hobby among town dwellers that were enthusiastic about growing their own food.
It has since evolved greatly, both in terms of technology and scale. The high demand of food and high prices in supermarkets (specially when food production in farms get affected by drownings or uncontrollable pests) have contributed to promote from small to almost large communities, to adopt this alternative.
Urban agriculture is set to improve food security as farmers capitalize on vertical farming to maximize yields on limited space.
Practiced on every available space that is on backyards, rooftops, windows, inside buildings, etc., urban farming now produces about 20% of the world’s food (source: greenbiz.com/article/urban-farms-now-produce-15-worlds-food). However, the concept is not limited to crop cultivation, but also involves aquaculture, animal husbandry and bee-keeping.
Gradually catching up in most urban centers, the practice is set to help urban communities reduce their food production.
Urban Farming Benefits
Urban agriculture holds countless benefits for urban communities. These include:
- Availability of affordable organic and highly nutritious foods. This helps reduce the risk of harmful conditions associated with consumption of processed foods. Conditions like obesity, heart diseases, diabetes, etc.
- Growing your own food helps diversify the family’s diet, leading to healthier families.
- Again, farming in itself is a rigorous body activity, which helps keep the farmers physically fit.
- Growing plants increases the vegetation cover, which improves aeration and makes living in town healthier
Urban food cultivation enhances the ecosystems by controlling environmental degradation. For instance, photosynthesis controls carbon thereby countering the heat-island effect.
Urban food cultivation allows for a significant reduction in carbon emissions with the lower consumption of fossil fuel for packaging, as well as transporting food from the rural areas.
This enhances a pollution-free environment.
What is even more exciting about urban agriculture is that apart from its positive impact on urban dwellers’ health and environment, it has incredible economic implications for both farmers and consumers.
- Urban farmers: the cost of producing own food is far much lower as compared to purchasing the food from the market.
Thus urban farmers save a considerable amount of money on their food budget.
- Consumers: the cost of transporting food from the rural areas to urban centers is factored into the food prices. This makes food extremely expensive and potentially unreachable to those families that have low to very low income. Farming therefore eliminates transport costs making the food more affordable.
Additional Family Income
Initially, most urban farmers were producing food for their household consumption, but with the advancement in technology and better space utilization, farmers have gone into commercial production. This translates to more income.
Moreover, through the consumption of organic and healthy food, there is a drastic reduction in diseases associated with processed foods like obesity, heart diseases, etc. This enables families to significantly save on treatment costs. Consequently, healthier families translate to a more productive population.
What are some of the Disadvantages of Urban Farming?
With its awesome benefits, urban farming is an attractive venture. But like any other venture, it does not come without its downsides. It may be helpful to identify with the following challenges:
- Water availability: securing reliable water from safe sources can be quite a challenge for most urban farmers. With the obvious necessity for water in farming, this is a sure challenge to any community.
- Air contaminants: there are higher levels of atmospheric pollutants within urban centers as compared to rural areas. This is mostly accrued to the ever increasing industrial activities. Air pollution is known to impair crop quality and yield.
- Rural farmers impact: with the increasing popularity of farmers harvesting within an urban setting, there could be also a reduction in demand of food produced by rural farmers. This could lead to deliberated protests to affect the food supply coming from rural areas, which supplies an 80% of the worlds food.
- Food demand: there is still a long way to accept the fact that the urban setting will not be yet capable enough to sustain the food demand from large communities.
Given that the benefits of urban farming outweigh the disadvantages by far, it would be a good move if many urban dwellers would join the practice in helping see greener urban centers.