Cities should not only be able to serve the need of settlement acquainted with aesthetic of yards and flower garden. In our age and time, urban regions should be able to accommodate farming practices in order to feed the populations.
This is a view according to experts in agriculture, an analysis made in such a season where climate change has greatly affected agriculture and hence affected food production
The world’s urban population currently comprises 3.5 billion people, according to “Food, Agriculture and Cities,” the Food and Agriculture Organisation (FAO)’s Food for the Cities multidisciplinary initiative position paper.
The population is expected to double to more than 6 billion by 2050 and it must have an impact in demand for food as well as other basic necessities.
Africa will experience the highest growth rate: According to the UN Population Fund, the continent is urbanising fastest in the world, with a current urban growth rate of 3.2 percent annually.
The continent will have more than 1.2 billion urban dwellers by 2050 — more than half of the continent’s population living in urban areas currently.
According to the World Food Programme (WFP), some 795 million people — about one out of nine — in the world do not have enough food to lead a healthy active life.
Sub-Saharan Africa is the region with the highest prevalence of hunger: One person in four (or 23.2 per cent of the population), was undernourished in 2014–16, according to FAO estimates.
There are a number of hurdles facing the cities such as rapid growth, increasing vulnerability to food security leading to food shortages and climate change impacts such as drought.
Others include changes in consumption patterns and the related increase in diet-related health problems in cities which lead to lifestyle diseases, said experts who gathered in Kigali on Tuesday for a public discussion on feeding city-dwellers.
The forum was organised by the Delegation of the European Union in Rwanda and Impact Hub Rwanda.
Cities must be prepared to provide adequate, safe, balanced, and affordable food, the panelists agreed.
Currently, some people in city slums worldwide face food shortages in countries like South Sudan, Zimbabwe, South Africa, and Angola.
Dr. Athanase Mukuralinda, World Agroforestry Centre (ICRAF) Rwanda Country representative, said that cities can for instance have vegetable gardens which can contribute to their food needs.
FAO Rwanda representative Attaher Maiga said that city dwellers can also engage in fish farming, which can be done in small spaces and can help reduce food insecurity.
Rwanda’s population is growing by 2.5 percent per year.
The country’s total population is projected to nearly double from the current 12 million to 21 million in 2050.
The Rwandan government’s Vision 2020 plan projects an urbanisation growth rate of 35 percent by 2020 from 16.5 percent in 2012.
The State Minister for Agriculture, Fulgence Nsengiyumva, said at the event that there are about 450 hectares of marshlands developed for agriculture in Kigali City.
Currently, peasants are using those marshlands with traditional farming methods.
The land could be farmed more effectively with modern farming skills to contribute to food needs in the city.
“From October to December , about 6,000 tonnes of vegetables, including cabbage, carrots, eggplants, and about 5,000 tonnes of fruit, including mango and oranges were imported in Kigali,” he said. “We are able to produce all this in Rwanda.”
This shows that an effort to grow vegetables in Kigali City could be successful, Nsengiyumva said.
The head of the European Union’s delegation to Rwanda, Ambassador Michael Ryan, said that Rwanda’s agriculture sector, which is at present largely traditional, needs to adopt new technology and agricultural engineering.
Makiko Taguchi, agriculture officer for rural and urban crop and mechanisation systems at FAO, said that cities should recycle organic waste so they practice things like composting to ensure agriculture productivity.
Another participant, Dr. Athanase Mukuralinda called on farmers to vary their fertiliser use between organic and inorganic materials to make soil more productive.
“Fertiliser application should not be the same to all soils because the soils nutrient needs as well as the climate are not the same across the country,” he added.
FAO’s Maiga said that smallholder farmers can also contribute to food for cities, especially when governments help them access broader urban markets and apply modern skills for increased productivity.
Smallholder farmers are often frustrated from selling food in cities when they encounter transport bottlenecks, according to Maiga.
Not everyone who goes hungry does so because there is no food; sometimes the food is in the wrong place.
Taguchi said a lot of food is lost between the producer and the consumer.
According to FAO, roughly one third of the food produced in the world for human consumption every year — approximately 1.3 billion tonnes — gets lost or wasted.
Addressing things like transport bottlenecks could ensure that less food is wasted and more of it feeds the hungry as food would easily be transported from areas of plenty to areas of scarcity.