Urban Agriculture Notes

City Farmer: Canada's Office of Urban Agriculture

(with special reference to Africa)


3.2 Expansion of Urban Agriculture Outside Asia

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

Since the late 1970s UA has been growing in many developing countries, in terms of numbers of practitioners, space used, contribution to household welfare and urban economies in general. A plethora of factors come into play to supplant this growth: rapid urbanization, ineffective agricultural policies, crippled domestic food-distribution systems, constrained public spending and subsidies, wage cuts, soaring inflation and rising unemployment, plummeting purchasing power, and lax urban land-use regulations or enforcement. External (civil strife and war) and natural (droughts, earthquakes, floods, and tsunamis) disasters also disrupt rural food production and supply lines to cities. One of the regions of the world for which the most data on UA are available is sub-Saharan Africa.

Conditions sufficient to dampen, not to say reverse, the growth of UA appear increasingly unlikely to arise in most of Africa and in sub-Saharan states in particular. Research and policy sectors are re-visiting UA because the aforementioned factors, formerly dismissed as exceptional or temporary until recently, are now increasingly recognized as multiplying and becoming persistent. Their compounding effect on urban populations is turning so pervasive that a return to "normality" is becoming an increasingly unlikely, if not vanishing, prospect in many parts of the world.

The growth of UA in sub-Saharan Africa will be discussed with evidence from specific cities in the subsequent sections. In this section the cases of Nairobi in Kenya and Dar es Salaam in Tanzania illustrate well that UA is expanding in urban economies of the region, regardless of differences which countries may show in the development of their respective urban economies.

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revised, June 12,1995

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