Agron. Sustain. Dev.
Volume 30, Number 1, January-March 2010
|Page(s)||21 - 32|
|Published online||14 January 2009|
Sustainable urban agriculture in developing countries. A review
Centre de coopération internationale en recherche agronomique pour le
développement (CIRAD), UR HortSys, TA B-103/PS4, boulevard de la Lironde, 34398
Montpellier Cedex 5,
2 Centre de coopération internationale en recherche agronomique pour le développement (CIRAD), UMR MOISA 34398 Montpellier Cedex 5, France
* Corresponding author:
Accepted: 31 October 2008
The population living in cities is continuously increasing worldwide. In developing countries, this phenomenon is exacerbated by poverty, leading to tremendous problems of employment, immigration from the rural areas, transportation, food supply and environment protection. Simultaneously with the growth of cities, a new type of agriculture has emerged; namely, urban agriculture. Here, the main functions of urban agriculture are described: its social roles, the economic functions as part of its multi-functionality, the constraints, and the risks for human consumption and the living environment. We highlight the following major points. (1) Agricultural activity will continue to be a strong contributor to urban households. Currently, differences between rural and urban livelihood households appear to be decreasing. (2) Urban agricultural production includes aquaculture, livestock and plants. The commonest crops are perishable leafy vegetables, particularly in South-east Asia and Africa. These vegetable industries have short marketing chains with lower price differentials between farmers and consumers than longer chains. The city food supply function is one of the various roles and objectives of urban agriculture that leads to increasing dialogue between urban dwellers, city authorities and farmers. (3) One of the farmers’ issues is to produce high quality products in highly populated areas and within a polluted environment. Agricultural production in cities faces the following challenges: access to the main agricultural inputs, fertilizers and water; production in a polluted environment; and limitation of its negative impact on the environment. Urban agriculture can reuse city wastes, but this will not be enough to achieve high yields, and there is still a risk of producing unsafe products. These are the main challenges for urban agriculture in keeping its multi-functional activities such as cleansing, opening up the urban space, and producing fresh and nutritious food.
Key words: urban and peri-urban agriculture / livelihoods / marketing chains / vegetables / freshness / multi-functional
© INRA, EDP Sciences, 2009