Here at USAID, our mission is to provide economic development and humanitarian assistance to people located all around the world. At USAID we ave a strong sector focused on Sub-Saharan African development. We notice that Durban is an up-and-coming city, with the potential to be a thriving seven million- person city by the turn of the century. We are contacting you about your future sustainable urban development.
There are rural areas located around your city which are extremely agricultural, but these farms are in need of exporting their goods in order to make money, and a high poverty level still arises in South Africa. We want to stimulate both Durban and the surrounding rural cities' economic development and growth through implementing sustainable agricultural evelopment programs throughout the area. Much attention has been raised towards sustainable economic development and growth as barriers are taken down and globalization continues to expand to the most rural parts of the world.
We believe that Durban, as a booming city of more than three million people, is a perfect place to implement sustainable urban agriculture and a city where the benefits will be fully reaped. Once these plans have taken shape, countries throughout Africa will take notice of the efficient resource use and city-wide positive development that has taken place. This paper will lay out three advantages that will stem from adding agriculture into urban life: the involvement of women and children in societal development, environmental benefits, and a benefit in food security.
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As the 17th Conference of the Parties to the UN Conference on Climate Change in Durban is around the corner (l am sure you know but as a reminder the 28th of November), now is a perfect time to seriously consider the benefits of sustainable urban agriculture as a means towards bettering the society, economy, and environment. Why does Durban, South Africa need to involve urban agriculture within its city nd surrounding areas? A r ca, Latin America, and Asia, by the year 2 home to 75% of urban dwellers world-wide.
This same study conducted by the Resource Centres for Urban Agriculture and Food Security (RUAF) predicted that by 2020, 40-45% of the poor in Africa will be concentrated in towns and cities ("Resource Centres on Urban Agriculture and Food Security"). After taking a look at these statistics, one can comprehend the magnitude of the effects on cities that the global population increase will cause. I am going to give you some examples of urban gricultural projects from other cities worldwide before I delve into the positive effects of implementing such projects into your city.
Essentially, an urban farm can be found in window sills, abandoned warehouses, and old parking lots. The magazine Farming the City highlights several examples of urban agriculture. One such community-boosting project is under way in Berlin, Germany. Here, the community has come together to convert the unused space of a half-century-old wasteland into an area suitable for growing vegetation and fruits. Activists and community members were the main people involved in the project.
The article notes that such spaces would promote community development through the sharing of knowledge, a "mini utopia" where people enjoy fresh foods and relax (Stipo 7). Architectural design has aimed at building fixtures in the urban sectors of cities, such as in the OosteliJk havengebeid district of Amsterdam. Here, a greenhouse" plan has been undertaken. This greenhouse will feature shops on the ground floor, restaurants on the top and effective uses of window-placement that allow maximum sunlight for the cultivation of crops.
The area outside of the greenhouse will be used as a locally- rown vegetable garden. (Stipo 6). Examples such as these show how community development can be achieved through organized gardens run by civilians and new building designs where sustainable practices are enforced. Let me start out with giving a detailed overview of why sustainable agricultural development will be implemented into Durban and the surrounding rural areas.
Sustainable development, without the added agricultural term, is defined as "development that meets the needs of the present without compromising the ability of future generations to meet their own needs"l . Why have humans even come to this point where there is an extremely viable chance that future generations will not be able to survive on this planet? The answer can be boiled down to misuse of natural resources and humans' inability to be environmental stewards, taking care of the land which they rely on for food and water.
I Just want to include some data on Africa's deforestation and poor land use so as to drill home the point of the need for sustainable agricultural methods to be implemented. South Africa, as a growing developing country, should heed warming of the harmful effects that deforestation as tolled upon Earth and its people in recent history. For one, deforestation causes soil erosion, which eventually leads to desertification and the pollution of waterways. Sub-Saharan Africa does not need dry, infertile land.
Land needs to remain fertile in order for the production of food to take place. South Africa's climate does not provide for much indigenous forest, as only 0. 5% of its surface area is covered by it (Collins). Urban agriculture will relieve deforestation, as it provides food to be produced within a city and not on large-scale farms. Much care should be put towards preserving hese forests. Urban agriculture aims at using less resources and the creativity of the human mind to create organic toods which nave the ability to keep the relationship between man and the world a healthy one.
The fact that up to 75 percent of the population in 29 Sub-Saharan Africa countries was constituted as malnourished in 2004, is alarming. Most of these individuals farm for a living, not making much money or providing food for their families or even their selves. Malnourishment and poverty essentially go hand in hand. In fact, in the year 2000, 59 percent of people lived below the poverty line of US 1 [day (United Nations Environment). Urban agricultural development can be used to benefit the society of African areas.
The fact that children and women are forced to work long hours on their farms and are still hungry is mainly due to the fact that they have no money to support themselves. They are not making enough money selling their crops and therefore do not have enough money to buy their own food. As a solution to this problem, Alex Colletta, a columnist for the University of California, Santa Barbara's daily newspaper, Daily Nexus, writes that by implementing self- ustaining farms into vacant lots and backyards, children and women can "promote community spirit... rovide fresh vegetables and fruits to several businesses and homeless shelters and also help feed a dying economy by helping small restaurants get the best food for cheap prices" (Colletta 4). As urban farmers no longer have to worry about paying for food, they can make a profit to live on. While the organic farming that Alex Colletta talks about in her article is coming from Detroit, a city in northern Michigan, USA, there is no doubt that the poor in South Africa can use it as form of both a societal community booster and a form of economic development.
Detroit has many abandoned factories, and these are what are being used for the new urban farms; Durban can build greenhouses and buildings in non-developed areas in order to promote the citys poor to become urban famers. Bill McKibben writes in his magazine article entitled A Special Moment in History that "Growing too fast may mean that they [poor people in slums] run short of cropland to feed themselves, of firewood to cook their food, of school desks and hospital beds" (McKibben, 400). He explains in this part of his article how population growth akes it difficult for the poor members of society to sustain their livelihoods.
One key pressure in the wake of rising African populations is food security. One major dilemma the poor face in the growing world, food security, centers on individuals' abilities to have healthy food when they need it. In Amy N. Lerner's article about food security and food production in the global south, she states that "research in Africa has found that economic and caloric needs are the primary motivations for populations in urban and pert-urban areas to pursue agriculture" (Lerner, 6).
With ising population densities, there is a rise in resource necessities; while this is the case, available labor and land remains low. Urban agriculture has the ability to provide organic fresh vegetables and fruits to a growing population within Durban. Families will be working within the community in order to provide food for community-run farmers markets and for their own families. With the smart use of land-planning, which is a major part of urban agriculture, along with having more people work, smarter, less resource-intensive urban areas will bloom.
Three advantages of organic farming are centralized on the society, the economy nd the environment; urban agriculture, as an organic form of farming, brings about all three ot these advantages. The advantage that organic urban farming poses towards cities and its population (society) revolves around the development of women and the alleviation of poverty, which brings about greater food security. Organic public markets, commonly known as farmers' markets, provide a place where members of society can convene and purchase locally-grown foods.
So, by promoting local food production for local needs, global policy should move away from subsidizing corporate food exports and opening p to foreign food imports, which drives small-scale farmers off of their land, and towards a policy that promotes small-scale, environmentally sound farming that provides for local markets (Brecher, Costello, Smith 316). Due to the fact that 59 percent of people worldwide lived below the poverty line of IJS$I 'day in the year 2000, new forms of aid for those who suffer from wages not able to sustain a healthy livelihood are pivotal in development (United Nations Environment Programme ).
With development strategies in place, women and children will learn how to grow vegetables and fruits, therefore being able to feed hemselves and sell food in local farmers markets. An increasing role in women's livelihoods has an extremely positive benefit for communities. Mayra Buvinic notes in her article Women in Poverty: A New Global Underclass manors in which national and international policies can change and improve to yield great benefits for poor women and the developing world. Two implementations Ms.
Buvinic recommends are to "Increase rural women's access to agricultural extension services" and "adopt labor- intensive 'pro-poor' economic growth policies that expand employment opportunities" (Buvinic 161). Examples of agricultural extension services include access to current news via internet and television broadcasts as well as agricultural production information and technologies ("Rural Extension and Advisory Services"). With these services, poor women in urban South Africa will become more knowledgeable as to ways they can improve their livelihoods while still being considered farmers.
Urban farmers are realizing that food markets where they can share their products with other members of their community are great places to make money, socialize, and learn new ways to efficiently grow crops. According to the Food and Agriculture Organization's "The State of Food and Agriculture, 2010-2011- Women in Agriculture" report, if women had the same access as men to productive resources, they could increase yields on their farms by 20-30 percent. This increase would cause for a 2. 5-4. percent increase in Africa's agricultural output ("State of Food and Agriculture: Women in Agriculture" 3). The message essentially being conveyed here is that women who are given equal access to resources as men are will generate more food and be able to deal with food scarcity and poverty throughout their respective countries. As the Center for American Progress points out, 26. 5 percent of African women are poor compared to 22. 3 percent of African males (Cawthorne ). The societal benefits of poverty alleviation with integration of urban agriculture are great.
Giving women the opportunity to work in a community- run garden where they can consume and sell foods gives them an occupation that empowers and insights them with knowledge. These women and children realize that they are helping the environment while improving their ownlivelihoods. Recreation provides physical and/or psychological relaxation, as well as activities where the poor an become educated about ecology, mentions an article on the reasons urban agriculture is important by the Resource Centres on Urban Agriculture and Food Security ("Resource Centres on Urban Agriculture and Food Security") Foundation.
The social impacts that revolve around women and children's participation in urban agriculture are a positive reason to enforce policies that will give them land for the creation of their own urban farms. The environmental benefits of urban agriculture are the alleviation of the costs surrounding transporting foods over long distances, ater-saving irrigation (reclaimed water), and composting materials to use as fertilizers instead of synthetic chemical fertilizers. Even with the amount of deforestation that has taken place worldwide, land is no longer suitable for agriculture.
Of the 11 percent of our planet Earth that is suitable for agriculture, humans have destroyed 38 percent of it through poor natural resource management practices ("Sustainable Agriculture"). Becoming good environmental stewards presents itself as humanities' last option. There is no longer enough land to provide food for the growing worldwide population. Cities will need to make use of urban agriculture to make up for this discrepancy. An overall adaptation towards organic rather than conventional methods of farming is the future of food production.
With less conventional and more organic farming methods, the use of pesticides will decrease dramatically. Pesticides create harm both for wildlife and humans, as toxins seep into waterways and onto vegetation. "Overall public health and ecological integrity could be improved" through the adoption of organic, pesticide-free, farming practices, says David Pimentel, who is part of the Cornell Department of Entomology. Pimentel 573). Composting can be seen as an environmental benefit in urban green spaces because it provides the soil fertility that otherwise is not present on old construction sites where growing operations are under way.
The main benefit that composting brings to urban agriculture, according to Arne Saebo, is that "high-quality compost consists of many compounds that influence the biological processes in the soil positively, thus improving the physical and chemical soil characteristics (Saebo, and Ferrini 160). Reclaimed water - coming from treated waste water - will be an ffective way to rid of urban waste water and will save water that can be used for other reasons, such as drinking. 2 Local governmental policies need to implement these sustainable, environmentally-friendly practices into Durban's urban agriculture system, and enforce them.
Urban agriculture is economically viable for civilians of South Africa for some key reasons. For one, urban agriculture in Nairobi consists of only one-third private residential land; this means that the other two-thirds of land where crops are grown in the city consists of "roadsides, riverbanks, and other publicly owned lands" (Romanik, 18). Clare T. Romanik, who works for the think tank Urban Institute, also notes in her article, An Urban-Rural Focus on the Food Markets in Africa, that urban agriculture has less means for the packaging, transportation, and storage of food (18).
As noted in the social benefits of urban agriculture stated earlier, food security is a great benefit of growing food that can be both consumed and grown by the consumer; this is also an economically important benefit due to its aid against poverty. According to RUAF, Africa city-dwellers spend 50-70 percent of their income on food ("Resource Centres on Urban Agriculture and Food Security"). Growing one's own vegetables in vacant lots or other creative places within Durban will allow tarmers to botn provide valuable vegetables tor their own consumption as well as for profit sales.
People who oppose or are speculative of the implementation of urban agricultural practices contend that available land is decreasing as populations in cities rise. As these populations rise, people are taking the land in informal ways and purchasing rights are not easy to obtain (Romanik 35). Also, some people may be speculative of how organic and healthy the vegetables and fruits coming from these urban farmers truly are. These speculations can be resolved through strict legislative policies. One other concern regarding urban agriculture is the question surrounding if it will support growing cities with enough food.
Mr. Pimentel observed a study of both organically-grown and conventionally-grown soybeans between 1981 and 2001. Respectively, the crops produced were 2461 and 2546 kilograms per hectare (Pimentel). As we see here, it is evident that growing food the organic way without powerful pesticides still provides close to the same yield as conventional farming. Investments in sustainable development need to occur, and uickly. Population pressures are continuously throwing wood on the fire that drives legislature and human minds to create new policies and ideas which are necessary to sustain life on earth for all its inhabitants.
Investments should be made that incorporate money into the public sector to meet human and environmental needs. Urban agriculture will provide locally-grown, healthy food for members of Durban. A vast sum of money will be saved from paying for food imports if city-dwellers purchase their food from farmers markets and consume food from their own organic arms. For women and children, and society as a whole, urban agriculture will expedite development through invigorating a sense of community and education of ecological processes.
Currently, the state of global trade is making life very difficult for those who do not earn a living wage. Locally-grown foods will bring food and money to those who are impoverished. Essentially, I write this as an alert, an invigoration of awareness, that there is a problem of people suffering in South Africa who need food. Solutions to food security and hunger are available: it is within egislatures hands to create policies that allow for city-wide composting, the management of public green spaces, and the development of self-sufficient ways of life for all.
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