Urban Agriculture Notes

City Farmer: Canada's Office of Urban Agriculture

(with special reference to Africa)


4.9 Urban Agriculture is Not Only the Poor's Business

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

Because UA is complex, it is clearly far from being merely a poor person's subsistence, an informal or illegal undertaking. Surveys in middle- and upper-class districts actually unveil a very different picture. The UNDP survey, for example, identified seven categories of urban farmers, with types of production ranging from low-income survival to agribusiness; food producers may be middle-income home gardeners, low-, middle-, and high-income entrepreneurs, and may organize themselves into farmers associations and cooperatives. An empirical classification for Kampala also ranges from food-security to market-oriented households (Maxwell, 1993b). Another typology based on the nature of production clearly indicates that some types of food production require more inputs than others (Sawio, 1993).

For instance, according to the Sokoine University's survey of 1,800 farmers in six Tanzanian cities, animal breeding is a money-maker for top executives; 65% of all livestock kept in Dar es Salaam in 1987/88 were found in a low-density area (Mvena et al., 1991). A three-district survey in Harare showed that 80% of Glen View (government and services) and Mabelreigh (middle-class suburb) had gardens with some food crops (Drakakis-Smith, 1990). In Dar es Salaam, urban farmers were evenly distributed across educational levels; 86% of interviewees agreed that high-income earners are doing the most urban farming (Sawio, 1993: 221, 228).

UA can take on the form of a large enterprise: in Bangkok, a single large firm contracts to about 10,000 producers of chickens and runs hatcheries and dressing plants; it controls major shares of the national and export markets. International agribusiness produces mushrooms in Jakarta. Bogot exports carnations to New York; Shanghai, orchids to Paris. California-based corporations own major shares and assist vineyards within Santiago, Chile (DGIP/UNDP 1992: 23).

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revised, June 12,1995

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