Published by City Farmer, Canada's Office of Urban Agriculture

The Diverse Roles of Urban Agriculture - Case Study of South Durban Basin KwaZulu-Natal

Paris Marshall Smith

Andreas Flach de Neergaard
Dep. of Agricultural Sciences; Plant and Soil Science
Noman Kanafani
Fødevareøkonomisk Institut / Afdeling for International økonomi og Politik

February 2006
Department of Agricultural Sciences
Royal Veterinary and Agricultural University
Thorvaldsensvej 40; DK-1871 Frederiksberg C, Denmark

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Title: The Diverse Roles of Urban Agriculture - Case Study of South Durban Basin KwaZulu-Natal

Thesis Body: The Diverse Roles of Urban Agriculture - Case Study of South Durban Basin KwaZulu-Natal


Responding to the pressures of increasing levels of urbanization, urban agriculture (UA) is gaining popularity as livelihood strategy in South Africa. As yet relatively few studies have attempted to assess the role that urban agriculture plays or might play in South Africa. This study addresses the social, economic and political importance of urban agriculture in the heavily industrialized area of the South Durban Basin (SDB). Research suggests that resource accessible households use UA as a means of securing their assets for a variety of livelihood endeavours, not solely economic. These alternative endeavours include harnessing UA as a spatial tool for community organizing and social identification. Using a range of qualitative and quantitative methods, 3 socially and economically diverse communities in the SDB were investigated to determine the different motivations and types of local food production. Farmers from school and community gardens, individual backyards and informal plots were interviewed. Soil potential and industrial emission dispersion rates were investigated through interactive mapping techniques. Analysis of soil material taken from the gardens was conducted to detect levels of heavy metal contamination. The levels of importance and scope of UA activity varied significantly between the different communities. The results indicate that current economic distortions resulting from historical discrimination are part of the variation in method and motive. The implications of these findings in terms of future urban planning and policy formulation are discussed.

Table of Contents

Chapter 1: Introduction
1. Introduction
2. Purpose
3. Objectives
4. Research Problem
Research Questions
5. Literature Review
a. Analytical Models
b. Areas for Further Study
6. Methodology
a. Social Science Methods
b. Natural Science Methods
7. Discussion of Study Sites and Methods
8. Structure of the Thesis

Chapter 2: Urban Agriculture (UA) Background
1. Background on UA
a. What is UA?
b. Where is UA Practiced?
c. Who Practices UA?
d. What are the Policy Considerations?
2. Potential Benefits from UA
a. Social
b. Environmental
c. Economic
d. Political

Chapter 3: Urban South Africa
1. Historical Urban Land Use Development
2. Urban Land Policies
a. Contemporary Urban Issues
3. Areas of Impact

Chapter 4: Local Context: Durban
1. Local Context
a. History of Durban
b. South Durban Basin
c. Government Policy on UA
d. UA in the Municipality
e. Study Areas

Chapter 5: Results
1. Introduction
2. Socio-Economic and Political Issues
3. Garden Management
4. Soil Nutrient Results
5. Environmental Results

Chapter 6: Discussion
1. Motivational Incentives for UA
2. The Framework
a. Social
b. Environment
c. Economic
d. Political
3. Summary

Chapter 7: Recommendations
1. Social
2. Economic
3. Environmental
4. Political
5. Collaboration

Works Cited

Appendix A - Questionnaire
Appendix B - Monthly Earnings
Appendix C - Soil Profiles
Appendix D - Samples sites, field notes and interview contacts
Appendix E - Heavy Metal Toxicity Charts
Appendix F - List of Crops found in SDB
Appendix G - Field Pictures
Appendix H - Definitions

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August 18, 2006

Published by City Farmer
Canada's Office of Urban Agriculture