Sunday, March 28, 2010

Resource Center for Urban Agriculture and Food Security

What is urban agriculture?

Urban agriculture (often differentiated as intra-urban and peri-urban agriculture) can be defined as the production of food (for example, vegetables, fruits, meat, eggs, milk, fish) and non-food items (for example, fuel, herbs, ornamental plants, tree seedlings, flowers) within the urban area and its periphery, for home consumption and/or for the urban market, and related small-scale processing and marketing activities (including street vending of fresh or prepared food and other products). In many places urban agriculture is also closely linked with recycling and use of urban organic wastes and wastewater.

Urban agriculture takes place on private, leased, or rented land in periurban areas, in backyards, on roof tops, on vacant public lands (such as vacant industrial or residential lots, roadsides), or on semi-public land such as school grounds, in prisons and other institutions, as well as in ponds, lakes, and rivers. In 1996 the United Nations Development Programme estimated that eight hundred million people were practising urban agriculture, 200 million of them market producers employing 150 million people full time (UNDP, 1996). Since then the numbers have increased.

Woman watering crops in Rosario By Hans Peter Reinders

For a long time the importance of urban agriculture was overlooked or dismissed as merely the result of traditional habits brought by rural migrants to the city, expected to fade away over time when these people integrated into the city economy. There was opposition to urban agriculture from public health and urban planning circles, which perceived urban agriculture either as a threat to public health that should be abandoned, or as a low-rent land use that would not be able to compete with other urban land uses. Such perceptions were institutionalized in restrictive by-laws and regulations at national and city levels, although these have remained largely ineffective.

During the past 15 years, studies have shown that urban agriculture should be recognized as an integral and permanent element of the urban socio-economic and ecological system (Van Veenhuizen and Danso, 2007; Mougeot, 2006). It forms an important part of the livelihood strategies of large numbers of urban poor. In many countries, rapid urbanization is accompanied by increasing urban poverty, food insecurity, and malnutrition. As a result, in many cities the number of people involved in urban agriculture tends to increase with ongoing urbanization, rather than decreasing, as had been previously assumed. Another factor is the growing urban demand for perishable products, including vegetables, meat, milk, and eggs, coupled with the comparative advantages of production close to the markets, and the availability of productive resources, including urban organic wastes, wastewater, and vacant public land.

The increasing importance of urban agriculture

About 50 per cent of the world’s population now lives in cities; 77 per cent of Latin Americans live in cities, while in Asia and Africa the proportion is currently 39 per cent, climbing at a rate of 3 and 4 per cent per year respectively (UN Habitat, 2003), and the numbers of urban poor are rapidly increasing. It is hard for most cities in developing countries to create sufficient employment for their rapidly increasing population. Meanwhile, transmissible diseases such as HIV/AIDS have eroded the income- earning capacity and assets of millions of urban households. As a consequence, the urbanization process goes hand in hand with an increase in urban poverty, dubbed the ‘urbanization of poverty’ (Haddad et al., 1999). According to UN-HABITAT, slum populations in urban areas of developing countries were estimated at 870 million in 2001 and are expected to increase by an average of 29 million per year up to 2020. Forty per cent of the population of Mexico City, for instance, and a third of Sao Paulo’s population are subsisting at or below the poverty line.

A lack of jobs and income is leading to increasing urban poverty, as well as to growing food insecurity among the urban poor. A substantial proportion of urban household expenditures is dedicated to food – for poor households as much as 60–80 per cent – and in the city context the lack of cash income translates more directly into food shortages and malnutrition than in the rural areas (Mougeot, 2006). On average, urban consumers spend at least 30 per cent more on food than rural consumers spend, but despite this their average calorie intake is lower and in many cases insuffi cient (Argenti, 2000).

Increasing food insecurity among the urban poor and increasing problems in accessing fresh nutritious food at affordable prices largely went unnoticed by municipal authorities until some years ago. This was due among other things to a middle-class bias in urban planning, a lack of attention to urban food issues, and an exclusive focus on food imports to the city; at the same time, planners paid little attention to problems of access to food and the actual and potential roles of urban food production. According to Dahlberg (1998), although during the entire history of humankind cities accorded high priority to ensuring their food supply, few cities nowadays show great concern about this or perceive that their future food safety is linked to the local food system and to the agricultural areas surrounding it. In this context, urban agriculture has belatedly been recognized as making a ‘signifi cant contribution to food security of urban households and generation of jobs and income, self-esteem and environmental improvement’ (Report of the Ministers’ Conference on Urban and Peri-Urban Agriculture; Prospects for Food Security and Growth in Eastern and Southern Africa, MDP Harare, Zimbabwe, August 2003).

Cities are fast becoming the principal territories for intervention and planning of strategies that aim to eradicate hunger and poverty and improve livelihoods, requiring innovative ways to enhance the food security and nutrition of the urban poor and vulnerable households. Urban agriculture is one such strategy. In 2000 the UN Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO) included urban agriculture in its programme and created the Priority Area for Interdisciplinary Action ‘Food for the Cities’. The FAO is now supporting the development of national and local policies and programmes on urban agriculture. More and more cities (for example, Rosario in Argentina, Bulawayo in Zimbabwe) and countries (such as Brazil, Botswana, and China) worldwide are now promoting urban agriculture to enhance food security, stimulate local economic development, and facilitate social inclusion and poverty alleviation (Brazil Government, 2008; Hovorka and Keboneilwe, 2004).

Benefits and risks associated with urban agriculture

While urban agriculture has important positive effects – on poverty alleviation, local economic development, food security, nutrition and health of the urban poor, social inclusion, and urban ecology – it can also lead to some undesirableoutcomes if certain associated risks are not taken into account and preventive measures are not taken.

Income and employment creation

Available research indicates that urban agriculture can be a profi table undertaking, especially in the case of products that are in high demand and have a comparative advantage over rural production. These include perishable products such as green leafy vegetables, eggs, milk, mushrooms, medicinal herbs, fl owers, and ornamental plants (see Moustier and Danso, 2006 or VanVeenhuizen and Danso, 2007 for an overview). Market-oriented urban agriculture generates net incomes that in most cases are equivalent to or better than the minimum urban wage. In cases where by-law barriers have been removed, urban agriculture has proved to be a highly dynamic sector, with features that include irrigated year-round production, production under cover, small-scale processing of fruits, vegetables, herbs, and mushrooms, development of certifi cation, green or organic labelling, and shorter marketing chains for consumers and institutions (IBRD/World Bank, 2008). Subsistence-oriented urban agriculture leads to important cash savings, since food is by far the largest component of household expenditures; as a result, a signifi cant portion of family income becomes available for nonfood expenditures. Urban farming also provides a source of employment, not only for urban farmers themselves but for hired labourers and workers in related micro-enterprises such as production of compost, herding, collection and selling of grass or manure, processing of agricultural produce, and street vending of food. In Cuba, urban agriculture generated 25,000 new jobs in the years 1994–8, with a smaller investment per job than in other sectors
(Gonzalez Novo and Murphy, 2000).

Urban food security and resilience
During economic or political crises – which in some cities are more often the norm than stability and economic progress – urban agriculture tends to increase rapidly, since it provides a safety net for the poor and for other households seeking to augment their dwindling incomes. It enhances their access to fresh and nutritious food by making fresh food available at prices that are lower than imported food, due to savings on transport, storage, refrigeration, and middlemen.

While cities will in future remain largely dependent upon food, especially staple crops, brought in from the rural areas and from international sources, cities can and should pursue greater food self-reliance in order to enhance their resilience and reduce vulnerability to shocks and food insecurity. This has been made clear by food riots in various cities, in response to recent sharp increase in food prices, caused in part by climate change and higher incidences of natural and human-made disasters. All of these have led to problems with food-supply chains that are dependent on imports or long-distance transport from rural areas.

To illustrate these trends, Box 1.1 presents findings taken (with permission) from a brief on urban food security and urban agriculture prepared by the FAO Regional Office for Latin America (FAO, 2008).

box 1.1box 1.1_2

Nutrition and health
Some studies suggest that urban farming households have a better nutritional status (as shown by calorifi c and protein intake, and measures of stunting and wasting) compared with non-farming households. Further, creation of better conditions for poor urban families to produce and market items such as vegetables, livestock products, and fi sh would increase the access of other poor households to fresh and nutritious food at affordable prices. Medicinal plant production is increasingly explored, given that poor urban families may spend 10–20 per cent of their income on health care. Local production of medicines and medicinal herbs could contribute to improved health conditions for these people. Urban agriculture also now receives attention as part of HIV/AIDS mitigation programmes, being a strategy to enhance the nutritional condition of patients as well as reducing the negative effects of reduced working capacity or loss of adult members on household food security.

However, food produced in and around cities may be detrimental to human health if there is pathogenic contamination, potentially causing infectious disease. This is especially the case if contaminated water or fresh solid organic wastes are used to fertilize crops of foodstuffs that are eaten raw, or if hygiene is lacking in the production, processing, and marketing of food, as can happen if market produce is ‘refreshed’ with contaminated water, or street vendors do not observe hygiene precautions. Cultivated areas in cities may attract or provide breeding grounds for rodents and f ies, which can contribute to the spread of infectious diseases, while certain diseases can also be transmitted to humans by livestock kept in close proximity to them, if proper precautions are not taken.

Food produced in and around cities can also be detrimental to human health if there is chemical contamination which might cause chronic disease. Heavy metals and complex organic compounds released by industry and traffic in particular may pollute urban crops through deposition and absorption via air, water, and soils. The World Health Organization (WHO, 2001) has published an ‘Action Plan on Urban Food Production and Consumption’ as part of its strategy to stimulate the local production and consumption of fresh nutritious food and to improve the nutrition and health of disadvantaged urban groups.

Urban environmental management
Urban agriculture has a high potential for improving the urban environment by using organic wastes – solid wastes and wastewater – as inputs, by improving the micro-climate, and by preventing erosion and fl ooding through replanting bare lands. It also conserves energy and food, because there are fewer food losses during transport and handling, and greater energy savings due to the smaller need for storage, processing, and packaging. The current highly capitalized and energy-consuming ‘super market’ model, based on the external supply of foodstuffs, increases the urban ’ecological food print’. Urban agriculture is one aspect of a different urban food system based on local or regional fresh products, with shorter market chains from producers to consumers, offering a policy alternative to the long-distance transport of food from elsewhere.

However, urban agriculture activities can create problems. They may contaminate local water sources if high inputs of fertilizers and pesticides are used. Neighbours may complain of dust, smells, and noise. Urban farmers may use high-cost treated drinking water for irrigation purposes. Further problems can be caused by poorly managed farm wastes clogging storm drains and piling up in the streets, while farming on steep slopes or along sensitive parts of river banks may lead to erosion and siltation.

The use of fully or partly treated urban wastewater for urban agriculture is investigated and promoted by the Sustainable Cities Programme of UNHABITAT and the UN Environmental Programme (UNEP), and WHO and FAO recently updated their guidelines for the safe use of wastewater in agriculture (WHO/ UNEP, 2006).

Enhancing civic participation in urban management
Finally, urban agriculture has proved to be an effective strategy to enhance the participation of urban communities in the management of municipal resources, including land, water, and urban wastes. The planning and implementation of urban agriculture and related projects for recycling and reuse of urban organic wastes and wastewater can have direct positive effects on people’s living conditions while generating feelings of self-reliance and creating links between the urban poor and other actors. The latter include NGOs providing technical support and training, and local authorities providing access to municipal land and services.


Urban agriculture can be defined shortly as the growing of plants and the raising of animals within and around cities.

The most striking feature of urban agriculture, which distinguishes it from rural agriculture, is that it is integrated into the urban economic and ecological system: urban agriculture is embedded in -and interacting with- the urban ecosystem. Such linkages include the use of urban residents as labourers, use of typical urban resources (like organic waste as compost and urban wastewater for irrigation), direct links with urban consumers, direct impacts on urban ecology (positive and negative), being part of the urban food system, competing for land with other urban functions, being influenced by urban policies and plans, etc. Urban agriculture is not a relict of the past that will fade away (urban agriculture increases when the city grows) nor brought to the city by rural immigrants that will loose their rural habits over time. It is an integral part of the urban system.
In each city a further specification of urban agriculture is possible by looking at the following dimensions:
  • Types of actors involved
    Large part of the people involved in urban agriculture is the urban poor. Contrary to general belief they are often not recent immigrants from rural areas (since the urban farmer needs time to get access to urban land, water and other productive resources). In many cities, one will often also find lower and mid-level government officials, school teachers and the like involved in agriculture, as well as richer people who are seeking a good investment for their capital.

    Women constitute an important part of urban farmers, since agriculture and related processing and selling activities, among others, can often be more easily combined with their other tasks in the household. It is however more difficult to combine it with urban jobs that require travelling to the town centre, industrial areas or to the houses of the rich.
  • Types of location
    Urban agriculture may take place in locations inside the cities (intra-urban) or in the peri-urban areas. The activities may take place on the homestead (on-plot) or on land away from the residence (off-plot), on private land (owned, leased) or on public land (parks, conservation areas, along roads, streams and railways), or semi-public land (schoolyards, grounds of schools and hospitals).
  • Types of products grown
    Urban agriculture includes food products, from different types of crops (grains, root crops, vegetables, mushrooms, fruits) and animals (poultry, rabbits, goats, sheep, cattle, pigs, guinea pigs, fish, etc.) as well as non-food products (like aromatic and medicinal herbs, ornamental plants, tree products, etc.). or combinations of these. Often the more perishable and relatively high-valued vegetables and animal products and by-products are favoured.
    Production units in urban agriculture in general tend to be more specialised than rural enterprises, and exchanges are taking place across production units.
  • Types of economic activities
    Urban agriculture includes agricultural production activities as well as related processing and marketing activities as well as inputs (e.g. compost) and services delivery (e.g. animal health services) by specialised micro-enterprises or NGOs, etc.
    In urban agriculture, production and marketing tend to be more closely interrelated in terms of time and space than for rural agriculture, thanks to greater geographic proximity and quicker resource flow.
  • Product destination / degree of market orientation
    In most cities in developing countries, an important part of urban agricultural production is for self-consumption, with surpluses being traded. However, the importance of the market-oriented urban agriculture, both in volume and economic value, should not be underestimated (as will be shown later). Products are sold at the farm gate, by cart in the same or other neighbourhoods, in local shops, on local (farmers) markets or to intermediaries and supermarkets. Mainly fresh products are sold, but part of it is processed for own use, cooked and sold on the streets, or processed and packaged for sale to one of the outlets mentioned above.
  • Scales of production and technology used
    In the city, we may encounter individual or family farms, group or cooperative farms and commercial enterprises at various scales ranging from micro- and small farms (the majority) to medium-sized and some large-scale enterprises.

    The technological level of the majority of urban agriculture enterprises in developing countries is still rather low. However, the tendency is towards more technically advanced and intensive agriculture and various examples of such can be found in all cities.

Why is Urban Agriculture important?

Read more: Further reading

The rapid urbanization that is taking place goes together with a rapid increase in urban poverty and urban food insecurity. By 2020 the developing countries of Africa, Asia, and Latin America will be home to some 75% of all urban dwellers, and to eight of the anticipated nine mega-cities with populations in excess of 20 million. It is expected that by 2020, 85% of the poor in Latin America, and about 40-45% of the poor in Africa and Asia will be concentrated in towns and cities.

Most cities in developing countries have great difficulties to cope with this development and are unable to create sufficient formal employment opportunities for the poor. They also have increasing problems with the disposal of urban wastes and waste water and maintaining air and river water quality. 

Urban agriculture provides a complementary strategy to reduce urban poverty and food insecurity and enhance urban environmental management. Urban agriculture plays an important role in enhancing urban food security since the costs of supplying and distributing food to urban areas based on rural production and imports continue to increase, and do not satisfy the demand, especially of the poorer sectors of the population. Next to food security, urban agriculture contributes to local economic development, poverty alleviation and social inclusion of the urban poor and women in particular, as well as to the greening of the city and the productive reuse of urban wastes (see below for further explanations and examples). 

The importance of urban agriculture is increasingly being recognised by international organisations like UNCED (Agenda 21), UNCHS (Habitat), FAO (World Food and Agriculture Organisation), and CGIAR (international agricultural research centres).

1. Food security and nutrition

The contribution of urban agriculture to food security and healthy nutrition is probably its most important asset. Food production in the city is in many cases a response of the urban poor to inadequate, unreliable and irregular access to food, and the lack of purchasing power.

Most cities in developing countries are not able to generate sufficient (formal or informal) income opportunities for the rapidly growing population. The World Bank (2000) estimates that approximately 50% of the poor live in urban areas (25% in 1988). In urban settings, lack of income translates more directly into lack of food than in a rural setting (cash is needed). The costs of supplying and distributing food from rural areas to the urban areas or to import food for the cities are rising continuously, and it is expected that urban food insecurity will increase (Argenti 2000).

Food prices in Harare, for example, rose 534 percent between 1991 and 1992 due to the removal of subsidies and price controls, spurring poor urban consumers to get access to food outside of market channels through home production or bartering (Tevera 1996).

Urban agriculture may improve both food intake (improved access to a cheap source of proteins) and the quality of the food may improve (poor urban families involved in farming eat more fresh vegetables than other families in the same income category).

In Harare, sixty percent of food consumed by low-income groups was self-produced (Bowyer-Bower and Drakakis-Smith, 1996).

In Kampala, children aged five years or less in low-income farming households were found to be significantly better-off nutritionally (less stunted) than counterparts in non-farming households (Maxwell, Levin and Csete 1998). Urban producers obtained 40 to 60 percent or more of their household food needs from their own urban garden (Maxwell and Zziwa 1992).

In Cagayan de Oro, urban farmers generally eat more vegetables than non-urban farmers of the same wealth class, and also more than consumers from a higher wealth class (who consume more meat) (Potutan et al.1999).

In addition to production for their own consumption needs, large amounts of food are produced for other categories of the population. It is estimated (UNDP 1996; FAO 1999) that 200 million urban residents provide food for the market and 800 million urban dwellers are actively engaged in urban agriculture in one way or another.

These urban farmers produce substantial amounts of food for urban consumers. A global estimate (data 1993) is that 15-20% of the world’s food is produced in urban areas (Margaret Armar-Klemesu 2000).
Research on specific cities and products yield data like the following:
  • in Hanoi, 80% of fresh vegetables, 50% of pork, poultry and fresh water fish, as well as 40% of eggs, originate from urban and peri-urban areas (Nguyen Tien Dinh, 2000);
  • in the urban and peri-urban area of Shanghai, 60% of the city's vegetables, 100% of the milk, 90% of the eggs, and 50% of the pork and poultry meat is produced (Cai Yi-Zhang and Zhang Zhangen in Bakker et al. 2000);
  • in Java, home gardens provide for 18% of caloric consumption and 14% of proteins of the urban population (Ning Purnomohadi 2000);
  • Dakar produces 60% of the national vegetable consumption whilst urban poultry production amounts to 65% of the national demand (Mbaye and Moustier 1999). Sixty percent of the milk consumed in Dakar is produced in/around the city; and
  • in Accra, 90% of the city’s fresh vegetable consumption is from production within the city (Cencosad 1994).
  • Over 26000 popular gardens cover 2438,7 hectares in Havana and produce 25000 tons of food each year; a total of 299 square kilometres of urban agriculture produces 113525 tons/year (Mario Gonzalvez Novo and Catherine Murphy in Bakker et al. 2000);
Urban agriculture to a large extent complements rural agriculture and increases the efficiency of the national food system in that it (IDRC 1998) provides products that rural agriculture cannot supply easily (e.g. perishable products, products that require rapid delivery upon harvest), that can substitute for food imports and can release rural lands for export production of commodities.

2. Economic impacts

Growing your own food saves household expenditures on food; poor people in poor countries generally spend a substantial part of their income (50 – 70%) on food. Growing the relatively expensive vegetables therefore saves money as well as on bartering of produce. Selling produce (fresh or processed) brings in cash.

In Dar es Salaam, urban agriculture forms at least 60% of the informal sector (personal communication Mr. Majani UCLAS, Dar es Salaam, 2001) and urban agriculture is the second largest urban employer (20 percent of those employed). In 1993, urban fresh milk production was worth an estimated USD 7 million in 1993 (Mougeot 1994). The annual gross output of over ten thousand UA enterprises in the city of Dar es Salaam totalled 27.4 million USD, with an annual value added amounting to 11.1 million USD. In 1991, the individual urban farmer’s annual average profit was estimated at 1.6 times the annual minimum salary (Sawio 1998).

In Addis Abeba, above-normal profits are earned by even the smallest-scale backyard producers with very low capital (Staal 1997).

In Harare, savings accruing to small-scale urban farmers are equivalent to more than half a month’s salary (Sanyal, 1996

In Nairobi in the early 1990s, agriculture provided the highest self-employment earnings among small-scale enterprises and the third highest earnings in all of urban Kenya (House et al. 1993).

In Mexico City production of swine brings in 10-40% of household earnings, urban cowshed-based milk can supply up to 100% of household income and in sub and peri-urban areas maize production provides 10-30%, vegetable and legume production even up to 80% of the household income (Pablo Torres Lima, L.M.R. Sanchez, B.I.G. Uriza in Bakker et al. 2000)

Besides the economic benefits for the urban agricultural producers, urban agriculture stimulates the development of related micro-enterprises: the production of necessary agricultural inputs and the processing, packaging and marketing of outputs. The activities or services rendered by these enterprises may owe their existence in part or wholly to urban agriculture. Other services may also be rendered by independent families and groups (e.g. animal health services, bookkeeping, transportation).

Input production and delivery may include activities like the collection and composting of urban wastes, production of organic pesticides, fabrication of tools, delivery of water, buying and bringing of chemical fertilisers, etc.)

Transformation of foodstuffs may include the making of yoghurt from milk, or the frying of plantains or yams, chicken or eggs, etc. This might be done at the household level, to sell at the farm gate or in a local shop or market, and larger units to sell in supermarkets or even for export.

Special attention is needed for the strengthening of the linkages between the various types of enterprises in clusters or chains. The municipality and sectoral organisations can play a crucial role in stimulating micro-enterprise development related to urban agriculture.
The video shows an example from Ecuador where the municipality has provided marketplaces for urban farmers. The organic refuse left after a market day is collected by a women's group who compost the refuse to use in their own farms. A true win-win situation. A similar example is shown from Dar es Salaam.

3. Social impacts

Urban agriculture may function as an important strategy for poverty alleviation and social integration. We mentioned earlier the positive stimulus it may give to women.

Several examples exist of municipalities or NGOs that have initiated urban agriculture projects that involve disadvantaged groups such as orphans, disabled people, women, recent immigrants without jobs, or elderly people, with the aim to integrate them more strongly into the urban network and to provide them with a decent livelihood. The participants in the project may feel enriched by the possibility of working constructively, building their community, working together and in addition producing food and other products for consumption and for sale.

In more developed cities, urban agriculture may be undertaken for the physical and/or psychological relaxation it provides, rather than for food production per se. Also, urban and peri-urban farms may take on an important role in providing recreational opportunities for citizens (recreational routes, food buying and meals on the farm, visiting facilities) or having educational functions (bringing youth in contact with animals, teaching about ecology, etc.).

4. Contributions to urban ecology

Urban agriculture is part of the urban ecological system and can play an important role in the urban environmental management system.

Firstly, a growing city will produce more and more wastewater and organic wastes. For most cities the disposal of wastes has become a serious problem. Urban agriculture can help to solve such problems by turning urban wastes into a productive resource.

In many cities, local or municipal initiatives exist to collect household waste and organic refuse from vegetable markets and agro-industries in order to produce compost or animal feed, but one can also find urban farmers who use fresh organic waste (which may cause environmental and health problems).
Quality compost is an important input that can fetch a good price, as the example from Tanzania shows. Compost allows an urban farmer to use less chemical fertilisers and by doing so preventing problems related to the contamination of groundwater. In addition, compost-making initiatives create employment and provide income for the urban poor.

Farmers may use wastewater for irrigating their farms when they lack access to other sources of water or because of its high price. The use of fresh (untreated) wastewater has the additional advantage for poor urban farmers that it contains a lot of nutrients (although often not in the proportions required by their soils and crops). However, without proper guidance, the use of wastewater may lead to health and environmental problems. Farmers need to be trained in self- protection during handling of the wastewater, proper crop selection and adequate irrigation methods, among other things.

Technologies such as hydroponics or organoponics, drip irrigation, zero tillage etc. substantially reduce water needs and health risks and are very interesting for the urban environment and can indeed be found in many cities.

The treatment and reuse of more urban wastewater in agriculture also needs to be ensured. This necessitates special decentralised treatment facilities and low cost (preferably bio-) technologies. In many cases, partial treatment will be optimal for agricultural reuse. More and more experience is being gained in public-private initiatives involving private enterprises and/or civic organisations in the development and management of municipal wastewater treatment plants. However, in most municipalities, the treatment capacity will be far lower than what is needed for many years to come, and farmers will continue to use raw wastewater - a fact that should urge municipalities and other actors to take proper accompanying measures.

Without a doubt, each situation will require a tailor-made solution, preferably to be found by involving the stakeholders in a process of participatory problem analysis, planning and implementation.

Secondly, urban agriculture may also positively impact upon the greening and cleaning of the city by turning derelict open spaces into green zones and maintaining buffer and reserve zones free of housing, with positive impacts on the micro-climate (shade, temperature, sequestration of CO2).

Degraded open spaces and vacant land are often used as informal waste dumpsites and are a source of crime and health problems. When such zones are turned into productive green spaces, not only an unhealthy situation is cleared, but also the neighbours will passively or actively enjoy the green area. Such activities may also enhance community self-esteem in the neighbourhood and stimulate other actions for improving the community's livelihood.

RUAF Publications

Since the start of the first RUAF programme until now, many RUAF Publications have been published. On this page, you will find links to the the RUAF Publications available online, please click on the title of the publication to access the publication. Please note that not all RUAF Publications are available online, RUAF Publications that are only available in hard copy are mentioned at the bottom of the list. For regional RUAF publications you should go to Regional RUAF Activities. If you are looking for non-RUAF publications, you should search our bibliographic database. If you are looking for a certain Urban Agriculture Magazine article, please go to the Urban Agriculture Magazine section of this website.

RUAF Publications
Books | Papers |Proceedings | E-conferences | Policy briefs | Videos | RUAF Update




Women Feeding Cities - Mainstreaming gender in urban agriculture and food security (2009)
Alice Hovorka, Henk de Zeeuw and Mary Njenga (eds)
Working Paper 1 Multi-stakeholder Policy Formulation and Action Planning for Sustainable Urban Agriculture Development (2007)Marielle Dubbeling and Henk de Zeeuw (with contributions from T. Otchere Larbi (IWMI Ghana) and G. Merzthal and A. Santandreu (IPES))
Working Paper 2 Key Issues and Courses of Action for Municipal Policy Making on Urban Agriculture (2007)Henk de Zeeuw, Marielle Dubbeling, René van Veenhuizen and Joanna Wilbers
Cities Farming for the Future - Urban Agriculture for Green and Productive Cities (2006)René van Veenhuizen (ed)
Growing Cities, Growing Food: Urban Agriculture on the Policy Agenda (2001)Bakker, N. et al.
Annotated Bibliography on Urban Agriculture (2002)ETC-RUAF
Resource Guide on Urban Agriculture (1999)ETC Ecoculture
Profitability and sustainability of urban and peri-urban agriculture (2007)Rene van Veenhuizen & George Danso
The development of urban agriculture; some lessons learnt (2004)Henk de Zeeuw
Contribution of urban and peri-urban agriculture to food security in Sub-Saharan Africa (2003)O. Cofie, R. van Veenhuizen & P. Drechsel
Improving agricultural productivity in the rural-urban interface through recycling of urban waste (2003)O. Cofie, P. Drechsel & H. de Zeeuw
Proceedings of workshops and conferences
Cities, Food and Agriculture: Challenges and the way forward (2009)Henk de Zeeuw & Marielle Dubbeling
Urban and peri-urban agriculture for Resilient Cities (Green, Productive and Socially Inclusive) (WUF, Nanjing, 2008)
Gardens of Hope: Urban micro-farming as a complementary strategy for mitigation of the HIV-AIDS pandemic (2005)ETC-RUAF, Bezekhaya, A. & CTA
Women Feeding Cities - Gender Workshop (2004)ETC-RUAF & Urban Harvest
SADC Ministers Conference on Urban Agriculture (2003)Shingirayi Mushamba
Urban Livestock keeping in Sub-Saharan Africa (2003)Wynn Richards & Sarah Godfrey (eds)
Proceedings of the workshop on Appropriate methodologies for urban agriculture research, planning, implementation and evaluation (2001)Gordon Prain & Henk de Zeeuw
Optimising agricultural land use in the city area (2003)Michael Baumeister & Henk de Zeeuw
Agricultural use of untreated urban waste water in low income countries (2002)Liqa Raschid-Sally, Sarath Abayawardana & Henk de Zeeuw
Appropriate methodologies for research, policy development, planning, implementation and evaluation (2002)Henk de Zeeuw
Urban and Peri-urban Agriculture on the Policy Agenda (2000)Rachel Nugent & Henk de Zeeuw

Policy briefs
Why are aquatic production systems important to South-East Asian Cities (2006)Marielle Dubbeling
Integrating aquaculture into urban planning and development (2006)Marielle Dubbeling
Managing health risks to develop wastewater into a valuable resource and asset (2006)Marielle Dubbeling
Improving public health and food safety (2006)Marielle Dubbeling
Production and marketing to reduce poverty and hunger (2006)Marielle Dubbeling
Urban Agriculture: A Tool for Sustainable Urban Development (2003)UMP/IPES
Urban Agriculture and Citizen Involvement (2003)UMP/IPES
Urban Agriculture: Land Management and Physical Planning (2003)UMP/IPES
Microcredit and Investment for Urban Agriculture (2003)UMP/IPES
Recycling Organic Wastes in Urban Agriculture (2003)UMP/IPES
Treatment and Use of Wastewater in Urban Agriculture (2003)UMP/IPES
Urban Agriculture: Fostering Equity Between Men and Women (2003)UMP/IPES
Urban Agriculture and Food Sovereignty (2003)UMP/IPES
Processing and Marketing Urban Agriculture Products (2003)UMP/IPES
Health risk reduction in a wastewater irrigation system in urban Accra, Ghana (2008)IWMI
Improving Food Safety in Africa - where vegetables are irrigated with polluted water (2007)IWMI
Video on Small urban producer organisations (2006)FAO-Food for Cities Initiative, ETC Urban Agriculture, IPES (Peru) and IDRC-Canada
Recycling realities in African Cities (2006)IWMI
Gardens of Hope - Urban Micro-farming and HIV/AIDSETC Urban Agriculture, CTA and The Peoples Garden Centre
Video on (policy) dimensions and examples of urban agriculture (2002)ETC-RUAF