Growing food in greener cities


Reinventing the village green

The challenge is to steer urbanization from its current, unsustainable path, towards greener cities that offer their inhabitants choice, opportunity and hope. One solution is urban and peri-urban horticulture, according to FAO.

Growing crops in and around cities and towns is nothing new. The Incas' citadel of Machu Picchu in Peru included a residential area and a zone of intensively farmed terraces.

FAO estimates that 130mn urban residents in Africa and 230mn in Latin America engage in agriculture, mainly horticulture, to provide food for their families or to earn income from sales. 

"Urban horticulture offers a pathway out of poverty," says Dr Pandey, citing its low start-up costs, short production cycles and high yields per unit of time, land and water.

Urban meals, often high in low-cost fats and sugars, are responsible for rising levels of obesity, overweight and diet-related chronic diseases, such as diabetes.

Growing fruit and vegetables, the richest natural sources of micronutrients, in and around cities increases the supply of fresh, nutritious produce and improves the urban poor's economic access to food.

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