Urban Agriculture Notes

City Farmer: Canada's Office of Urban Agriculture

(with special reference to Africa)


4.10 Urban Agriculture is Not for the Neophyte

by Luc J.A. Mougeot
© Copyright 1994
International Development Research Centre

Because of the resources needed to engage in urban agriculture, even for small scale producers, UA is not primarily the accidental or temporary business of recent migrants from rural areas (Drakakis-Smith, 1992: 5). Back in 1958, in the small town of Pointe Noire, Vennetier (1961: 72) had found that the largest fields were in hands of people who had been living for 5 - 20 years in that city. More than 60% of Lusaka's urban farmers had resided there for more than 5 years before starting their plot gardens; nearly 45% had not farmed for the first 10 years of residence (Sanyal, 1986: 15). In Nairobi, urban farmers average period of residence was 20.4 years and 85% had resided for at least 5 years, 57% for 15 years or more, and 15% for more than 40 years (Freeman, 1991:137). Tricaud's (1988: 8) survey of 100 gardeners in Freetown and Ibadan, Sawio's study (1993) in Dar es Salaam and others show similar findings. Most urban farmers have part or full-time jobs. Even in small Pointe Noire, only 17 out of 266 interviewed farming heads of household could be described as jobless; the rest were nonskilled manual workers, construction workers, and mechanics (Vennetier, 1961: 72). In Addis Ababa, most urban crop producers in Egziabher's sample initially worked in the informal sector. They then became agricultural leaseholders and workers prior to squatting on public land and setting up this cooperative (Egziabher, 1994: 92).

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revised, June 12,1995

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