FAO Releases First Status Report on Urban and Peri-urban Horticulture in Africa

FAO30 August 2012: The UN Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO) has released the “First Status Report on Urban and Peri-urban Horticulture in Africa.” Accompanying strong economic growth and expansion of urban centers in Africa, FAO notes the strong potential contribution of urban gardening to food security, climate change adaptation, and sustainable development.

The FAO report highlights that urban gardens have grown with little recognition, regulation or support, with almost 40% of households farming in sub-Saharan African cities. Underscoring possibilities for greenbelts, the FAO notes that large areas of land surrounding cities can be zoned for horticulture, and perhaps use treated urban wastewater.

It stresses that market gardens create green belts that protect fragile areas, contain urban sprawl and build resilience to climate change. The report underscores that African cities are highly vulnerable to the impacts of climate change, including flooding, intense storms and water scarcity. It further notes that lack of effective waste management in most cities contributes to generating greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions from landfill sites that are three times those of the US.

The report describes the “save and grow” approach to farming that aims to grow more and better quality produce while nourishing the urban agro-ecosystem by using less fertilizer, less pesticide and less water, in part through compost, drip irrigation and rainwater harvesting. It also highlights approaches for urban farmers to form cooperatives and for city authorities to promote urban agriculture. [Publication: Growing Greener Cities in Africa] [FAO Press Release] [UN Press Release]