FAO, the Rome-based United Nations Food and Agriculture Organization is supporting ‘urban agriculture’ in its battle against hunger and malnutrition in the world’s fastest expanding cities.
2007 will be the first in history in which the world’s urban population (a total of more than three billion people) exceeds that of rural areas. At present, one third of city dwellers inhabit slums, and in sub-Saharan Africa slum dwellers account for three quarters of all urban residents.
According to UN projections, two thirds of the world’s population will be living in cities by 2030. ‘Making sure they have the food they need will pose an unprecedented challenge,’ says Alexander Müller, Acting Head of FAO’s Agriculture and Consumer Department.
Under its interdisciplinary ‘Food for the Cities’ program FAO is helping support urban and suburban agriculture to create nutritional self-sufficiency.
The Democratic Republic of the Congo, Senegal, Gabon, Mozambique, Botswana, South Africa, Namibia, Egypt and Mali are all participating in FAO-backed ‘urban agriculture’ initiatives in Africa, promoting allotment gardens in line with the principles of good agricultural practice and according to strict quality norms. Produce is thus fresh, safe and healthy.
In the barrios of the Colombian cities of Bogota and Medellin, FAO is developing a pilot project to support vegetable production by internally displaced persons, with local experts teaching hundreds of families to grow their own vegetables in micro-gardens using a containers such as recycled water bottles, old tyres and trays.
Every month, each family’s ‘garden’ yields around 25 kg of produce such as lettuce, beans, tomatoes and onions. Surpluses are sold off to neighbours or through a project cooperative.