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Approach:

  1. Intro – define urban agriculture’s concept.
  2. Briefly mention that urban agriculture is constrained by small urban spaces.
  3. Delineate the advantages.
  4. Conclusion

Urban agriculture is the practice of farming in urban and peri-urban areas. It is now part of a growing trend in cities globally to look towards locally produced food. Besides city administrations, urban agriculture has started drawing the attention of many non-governmental organisations (NGOs), community groups, and citizens.

At the global level, the Food and Agricultural Organization (FAO) believes that urban and peri-urban agriculture has a role in ensuring food & nutritional security. The Urban Food Agenda is an FAO flagship initiative to enhance sustainable development, food security, and nutrition in urban and peri-urban areas. It encourages partnerships with different stakeholders.

State in India: We also have examples of such agricultural pursuits in many Indian cities. But this is limiting given that India’s total urban area is around 222,688 square kilometres which is about 6.77% of India’s geographical area. This small area packs around 35% of the country’s population. Quite clearly, urban agriculture is beset with severe space constraint challenges and is not likely to make any major difference in the overall food production.

Advantages:

Despite the limitations, urban agriculture is worth promoting for several reasons.

  • Even if the food grown is a small fraction of the total output, this small fraction is bound to provide sustenance to a large number of people.
  • Such small-scale decentralised production can also be done to supplement diets at household or community level.
  • Furthermore, it has local employment value. Being labour-intensive, it can improve livelihood opportunities in the cities and generate income, especially for the poor.
  • Urban agriculture has a significant role in urban environmental management as it can combat urban heat island effects and function as an urban lung in addition to providing visual appeal.
  • Additionally, it brings purposeful recreation that has direct impact on the city health.
  • Urban agriculture helps city-dwellers to establish linkages with nature and educate them in its richness and diversity. Urban agriculture provides a fine opportunity for such engagement and eco-cultural learning.
  • It also helps to develop community bonds and a sense of sharing through community agriculture. To cover different age groups, pedagogic farms aimed at different age groups and types of people & interests, have proved extremely useful in some nations.
  • Since cities are struggling with waste management and disposal, urban agriculture can provide some help to deal with it.
  • The use of suitably treated waste water for urban agriculture can reduce demand for fresh water and help in waste water disposal.
  • Moreover, organic waste from the city can be composted and used in food and flower production.
  • It is one of the most advisable forms of waste recycling for cities in the future.

We are already aware that the forces of climate change are throwing up huge challenges, including floods and heat waves. Besides, droughts in the countryside are likely to trigger greater migration to cities. In this background, a vital addition to municipal functions should be urban agriculture. Similarly, urban planning would need to include urban agriculture as a planning item in its land use plan. The future calls that urban agriculture is not merely a marginal esoteric interest, but a critical urban function.

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