In this section, you may find new materials that have been published on the topic of “Growing food in the cities: Successes and new opportunities”, since the date of the event. We continually select major new publications and articles that add up to the policy points discussed in this briefing.
Vertical farm receives the world’s first urban farm certification for organic vegetables
straitstimes.com ; 11/06/2019
In Singapore, buyers of mini-vegetables from the first vertical farm can now be assured they were grown without the use of artificial fertilisers or pesticides. Sky Greens, an urban farm in Lim Chu Kang, has been awarded the world’s first national standard for organic vegetables grown in urban environments, developed in Singapore to address key challenges such as limited land, lack of soil and water and higher operating costs from energy consumption and manpower constraints. Sky Greens received the Singapore Standard 632 (SS 632) for organic primary produce certification from certification body Control Union Certifications on Tuesday (June 11). The certification was developed by the Singapore Standards Council’s Food Standards Committee with the support of Singapore Manufacturing Federation-Standards Development Organisation and Enterprise Singapore. Urban farms worldwide, including importers, exporters and retailers can apply for the SS 632 certification.
CNN’s Marketplace Africa explores the urban farms of Johannesburg
On CNN’s Marketplace Africa, host Eleni Giokos explores the rise of urban farming methods. In Johannesburg, South Africa, the programme discovers how rooftops and old buildings are being transformed into green havens. According to market research future, the global urban farming market is expected to reach $290 billion by 2024. Michael Magondo, co-founder of Wouldn’t it Be Cool, believes urban farming continues to grow in popularity as it capitalizes on unused spaces. He says: “Our costs are much lower than what is required, it’s less capital intensive than traditional farming. We don’t have tractors… a lot of our production is using hydroponics [which] means when we establish an operation, our critical costs are actually putting up the green house, the structure around which we see ourselves in and secondly the actual technology that then grows the crops.”
Backyard farming key to food security in cities
Revising regulations to increase backyard gardening in cities could be key to sustaining food production in Sub-Saharan Africa, an expert says. According to the United Nations Department of Economic and Social Affairs, about 40 per cent of Africans lived in cities by 2010, with the proportion expected to increase to 60 per cent by 2050, making Africa the region with the fastest growing urban population. As the Sustainable Development Goal 11 calls for making cities more sustainable by 2030, a study published in the May issue of Land Use Policy journal suggests that promoting agriculture in cities and their surrounding areas is a must to boost food security. “City authorities should consider exercising the right of acquiring land from the private sector and zoning them for urban agricultural purposes,” says Owusu Amponsah, the expert and a co-author of the study. “This is particularly important because of the hybrid and fragmented nature of the land tenure system in most countries in Sub-Saharan Africa.” Amponsah, who is a senior lecturer at the Department of Planning of the Kwame Nkrumah University of Science and Technology, Ghana, tells SciDev.Net that the study was conducted to identify secure sources of land for agriculture within urban areas and their peripheries following reports by Ghanaian farmers that they were either being threatened or evicted from their farms by institutional heads.
The new wave of urban farming: Farming in small spaces
Do you dream of an organic garden, but don’t have a yard? A flock of chicks, perhaps, but don’t have a yard? Home-grown food, and lower grocery bills (but, alas, no yard!)? Dream no more, because you can have it, and without quitting your job, trading your bus pass for a pickup, or moving to the rural north. With an increasing population conscious of its health and as more town dwellers opt to produce their own food, better ways of urban farming are being introduced. With cities expanding and climate change placing greater constraints on agriculture, the agrifood sector must innovate to be able to feed people in urban areas. In this constricted setting, how can more food be produced in small spaces, and at affordable prices? Rapid urbanisation, land pressure and labour migration to cities often go hand in hand with difficulties related to unemployment, poverty, food insecurity and malnutrition. Solutions to these challenges are nevertheless available. “In areas with poor or polluted soil, and in urban centres (rooftops and patios), technologies like hydroponics and aquaponics provide a means of farming where it may otherwise not be feasible,” says Austin Stankus, aquaculture consultant for the FAO Climate Change Adaptation in the Eastern Caribbean Fisheries Sector project.
How city slum youths are making extra cash in urban farming
The young men and women sweating it out on some tiny ‘farm’ squatting by a dusty road could easily pass for jokers.But Kenyans, hailed as one of the most innovative and hardworking human resource in Africa, are famous for scratching on bare rock for a living. Many times, they strike gold.Thus, whereas the capital city is believed to the home of white collar jobs, idle villagers upcountry would be surprised to learn that some Nairobians are minting good chapa from soiling their hands — without even the benefit of a decent shamba.Slum residents, most of them youths, have taken to urban farming as an alternative source of income, and they are doing just fine.This relatively new venture has its roots in Mukuru kwa Ruben slum, but is fast sweeping through other areas including Kibera, Mathare, Dandora, Mukuru kwa Njenga, Korogocho and Baba Dogo.
How good urban farming can combat bad eating
Unhealthy diets pose a bigger global health risk than unsafe sex, alcohol, drug and tobacco use combined. This is according a new report that estimates 820 million people are underfed and that many more consume low-quality diets that substantially increase the risks of cardiovascular disease, stroke, diabetes and obesity. To combat these problems, the EAT-Lancet Commission recommends a “planetary health diet” for everyone over the age of two. This consists of a daily intake of 2,500 calories made up of a “variety of plant-based foods, low amounts of animal-based foods, unsaturated rather than saturated fats, and few refined grains, highly processed foods and added sugars”. For Africa, achieving the planetary health diet will require a range of initiatives. It will involve investing in innovative farming techniques and educating communities on healthy eating, including of traditional African foods and fortified foods. Since the Lancet report cites urbanisation is a key reason for the rise in unhealthy eating, one part of the solution will also be for Africa to boost food production in its cities. To do this, Africa must invest in innovative urban farming practices to ensure healthier foods are available to everyone. Some regions are already trying this. In South Africa, for example, the Western Cape Department of Agriculture actively encourages citizens to grow crops in urban areas. Meanwhile, in Kenya, backyard farming is becoming increasingly common despite negligible government support.
Peri-urban agriculture: a threat or an oportunity?
Rapid population growth is a threat to urban agriculture in Kinshasa, Democratic Republic of Congo DRC. More and more in DRC, especially the city of Kinshasa province, there is an immense population growth, empty spaces once occupied by farmers in the city centre of Kinshasa have become residential or large residential areas. An example is the nursery case of Bandalungwa municipality, which we interviewed two farmers who were doing urban agriculture in the city centre of Kinshasa. Urban agriculture in Kinshasa is threatened by the construction of the modern city For maman Koko Yala Therese (grandmother in ligala) stated that she started a vegetable field in the nursery of Bandalungwa commune since 1665 and cultivated the biteku teku, spinach, and ngaingai, pointe noir (amaranth) that allowed her to send her children and grandchildren to school. She paid three compounds and sent her eldest daughter to the United States with the same job. One morning in 2011, they have chased out the bandanlungwa nursery for the construction of a modern city, and the public services gave us 450 US dollars to trade, other friends received 300 US dollars and others have received nothing.
Promoting urban agriculture for food security
The world’s population is expected to increase by about 3 billion by 2050 and it is forecasted that nearly 80 per cent of that population will live in urban centres. The urban growth rate in Africa is 3.5 per cent which is highest among all continents. Rapid urbanization in developing countries is accompanied with problems of urban poverty and urban food insecurity. Lack of employment, high food prices and malnutrition further the problem of urban food insecurity in Africa. Most countries have developed agriculture as a solution to urban food insecurity. Through urban agriculture it is possible to help poor people cope with food scarcity and hunger through the growing of plants, raising of livestock within and around cities, community gardening, rooftop gardening, urban forest gardening, green walls, vertical farms, animal husbandry, urban beekeeping etc. It will also offer urban poor a viable income. The importance of urban agriculture is increasingly being recognized by international organizations like UN-Habitat and FAO (World Food and Agriculture Organisation).
Urban rooftop farmer making a difference in the sky
Hillbrow, Johannesburg. 2019. A veritable den of wantonness and bedlam. A place where violent crime is as every day as the rising of the Jozi sun. Where peace and tranquillity for its denizens are absent and the shadows of poverty that stalk them are profuse and death-defiant. A black hole into which the hopeless have been sucked and where predators lurk around every bend. Every morning on the top of The Outreach Foundation building, you will find Sibongile Cele working on one of just a handful of urban rooftop farms in Gauteng. Woman alone, tending her crops, which includes spinach, lettuce, basil, parsley and an assortment of other herbs. Her hands bring to harvest organically grown produce of the highest quality and, in the process, debunk the malignant stereotypes that beset the national view of Hillbrow as a slum beyond repair and rescue.
European project to turn roofs into greenhouses
When agriculture meets construction, the cities of tomorrow take shape and with them, urban innovations emerge. A real trend in recent years, Urban Farming is nowadays not only an alternative to traditional modes of production and consumption, but above all an innovative solution for reinventing cities. It is in this dynamic that the European GROOF project – Greenhouses to Reduce CO2 on RooFs – was born. Launched in 2017 and supported by the INTERREG NWE programme, it is an innovative cross-sectoral approach to reduce CO2 emissions from the construction and agricultural sectors by combining energy sharing and local food production. Thus redesigned, buildings then become real technological platforms with new functionalities, capable not only of producing and/or storing energy for example, but also of producing vegetables.
Hydroponic vegetable farms on Johannesburg’s rooftops
Up amid the skyline of Johannesburg, entrepreneurs, chosen by business incubator WIBC and supported by the Johannesburg Inner City Partnership, are growing salad and vegetables commercially. Future Farms, a company designing and installing dual hydroponic commercial systems of containers and tunnels, was contracted to build the rooftop gardens. Everything in these eleven rooftop gardens (so far, but more are in the works) has been done with a tight budget in mind: no automatic ventilation or fertigation, just extra steel in the frame to cope with wind sheer up above the city. Due to the LED lighting panel redesigned by Future Farms to bring down costs, as well as the recirculation of water in a hydroponic system, the electricity and water bill for each rooftop garden comes to far below R1,000 (65 euros) a month. (It doesn’t use solar energy; solar panels would push up costs considerably.) Future Farms have developed their own range of LED grow lights. “We started with blue and red light but we’ve moved away from that completely to full spectrum lights,” he says. “We found with blue and red that the plants would grow but it was just missing something, it doesn’t round the plant off nicely.”
What is hydroponics – and is it the future of farming?
While industrialized farming techniques have meant a more plentiful supply of cheaper, fresher food – most notably in the developed world – they can also be a threat to the environment, promoting waste, putting too much strain on resources and causing pollution. That’s one of the findings of a report published by the Ellen MacArthur Foundation at the World Economic Forum Annual Meeting in Davos. The report highlights the importance of cities in the production and consumption of food: “80% of all food is expected to be consumed in cities by 2050, they have to be central to this story. Today they often act as black holes, sucking in resources but wasting many of them – the final stop in the take-make-waste approach.” Partly, this is due to the need to transport food to urban areas. That’s a process that places great importance on producing a lot of food, then packing and shipping it across sometimes vast distances, before storing and finally selling it to people. From start to finish that requires resources to be deployed at every step of a long chain of events – fuel, people, land, buildings, the list goes on. One response to this, which is beginning to take shape, is vertical farming. Forecasts from Research & Markets claim the vertical farming industry could be worth as much as $3 billion by 2024. Key to this approach, where food is grown in densely populated towns and cities where land is scarce, is the use of hydroponics.
Urban Farming in Tanzania
Urban Farming is consider as the way to guarantee favorable living conditions in developing countries such as Tanzania. 45% of GDP in Tanzania comes from agriculture; for that reason, it is necessary to look for alternatives in big cities for those farmers who migrate to the cities looking for new opportunities but, at the same time, continue to focus their work on the primary sector, as they have always done. According to the last report of the United Nations about environmental (2007), it is predicted that by the year 2030 urban areas in sub-Saharan Africa will united 50% of the population. Data that reflects the need of start looking for alternatives to existing livelihoods in the cities. In Tanzania, even that the majority of the population still lives in rural areas, there has been a strong increase in the urban population in the last 30 years, which has risen by 40%. Even though, in urban areas, a quarter of the population is poor. This data is explained because more than 2/3 of the population in this country is dedicated to the agricultural sector and, when moving to the city in search of an improvement in their quality of life, has lost its ability to dedicate itself to what it always it has done; agriculture.
Growth of urban farming systems in Nigeria
As desertification and soil erosion have led to the loss of arable land in Nigeria, could hydroponic farming be a sustainable alternative? Watch Video Here
UA Magazine no. 35 – Youth in Food: Opportunities for education and employment
RUAF, November 2018
This issue of UA Magazine explores challenges and solutions raised by migration pressures with a focus on youth employment in city region food systems. We have articles from Brazil, Canada, China, Indonesia, Liberia, Mali, Nepal, Peru, Philippines, Rwanda, Sierra Leone, Tanzania, Uganda and the United States, and from small to mega-cities, urban, periurban and rural spaces. This collection explores opportunities for and barriers to youth employment along the entire food system. It is produced by the RUAF Foundation with the support of the Technical Centre for Agricultural and Rural Cooperation (CTA), International Water Management Institute (IWMI) Wilfrid Laurier University’s Centre for Sustainable Food Systems (CSFS) and the Food & Business Knowledge Platform.
The world’s population is growing rapidly and concentrating in urban centres. This trend is particularly intense in developing countries, where an additional 2.1 billion people are expected to be living in cities by 2030. However, sanitation coverage (collection and treatment) is not keeping pace with urban growth and as a result most wastewater enters water courses untreated.
Good Agricultural Practice for Urban Agriculture
Sub-Saharan Africa is one of the most rapidly urbanising regions in the world. Achieving food and nutrition security is not only a rural challenge; the access to adequate – in terms of quantity and quality – healthy and affordable food is also a growing issue for cities. Especially in the rapidly expanding informal areas, the design and implementation of a sustainable urban food system plays a crucial role for cities and is one of the biggest challenges to address for policy makers, the population and civil society, city planners and, of course, urban farmers. A more environmentally-friendly urban agriculture in line with Good Agricultural Practices adapted to an urban context (URBANGAPs) has the potential to reduce the health and ecological risks associated with conventional urban agricultural production, provides more agrobiodiversity within the city and promotes a more sustainable urban food system. Since March 2016, the Federal Ministry of Food and Agriculture (BMEL) through the Federal Office for Agriculture and Food (BLE) has supported UFISAMO (Urban Agriculture for Food Security and Income Generation in South Africa and Mozambique) on urban agriculture in Cape Town, South Africa and Maputo, Mozambique. The objectives of the project are to investigate how urban agriculture contributes to improved food and nutrition security of the small-scale urban farmers in informal and marginalised areas of the city – likewise, how to increase income by optimising production, processing and marketing of horticultural and livestock products.
Perspectives of Urban Agriculture in Maputo and Cape Town
With its multiple dimensions and functions, urban agriculture has the potential to contribute to a sustainable urban development process, depending on how it is executed and who is included. In this study, we promoted multi-stakeholder dialogue about the outlook of urban agriculture in Maputo and Cape Town in form of interviews, meetings, field visits, farmers’ meetings and scenario-building workshops. The goal was to create a common vision with the different actors – farmers and gardeners, non-governmental organizations, social movements, enterprises, scientists and policy makers – and to develop strategic measures for positive change that served as the basis for formulating recommendations. In Maputo, thousands of small-holder farmers are well-organized and there are many actors who have the will to promote agriculture within the city. However, the political institutions that deal with urban agriculture lack commitment to address urban agricultural issues. Therefore, we propose a set of strategies that range from the creation of multidisciplinary working groups to the mapping of available arable land in the city.
The Role of Cities in the Transformation of Food Systems: Sharing Lessons from Milan Pact Cities
sustainablefoodcities.org , 08/20/2018
This report published by the FAO highlights trends in urban food policy and practice as seen in the 157 submissions from the 2016, 2017 and 2018 cycles of Milan Pact Awards. These trends are illustrated by a series of examples. For most cities signing the Milan Pact, the inclusion of the local food system as a priority is a new or relatively recent development. Most cities do not yet have a comprehensive food policy. Despite challenges in terms of delineation of responsibility, conflicting mandates, lack of coherence, lack of resources and of a robust evidence-base and lack of proper cross-representation, patterns in urban food systems evolution are identifiable and they have begun to address these challenges.
Dakar: creating microgardens Using recycled Materials
milanurbanfoodpolicypact.org, October 2018
Dakar, the capital city of Senegal, is experiencing unprecedented population growth, coupled with strong rural-urban migration. This has generated pockets of poverty among the population, often at risk of food insecurity. The urbanization process has also reduced the availability of arable land, already compromised by the effects of climate change. This has caused a general increase in the price of vegetables and further puts at risk the food security of the most vulnerable strata of population. For this reason, the Municipality of Dakar implemented a project in support of micro-gardening with the double aim of addressing food insecurity, while contributing to social stability.
Antananarivo: vegetable Gardens for school Canteens
milanurbanfoodpolicypact.org, October 2018
Madagascar is among the five countries most affected by chronic malnutrition and the ten countries most vulnerable to climate change. Antananarivo is experiencing an increase in the rate of malnutrition caused by the rapid growth of the urban population in extreme poverty. Children’s food and nutrition security continues to require urgent action. The World Food Programme (WFP) andthe Ministry of National Education (MNE) operate a programme to improve school children’s food security by providing food for school canteens in Antananarivo. The food from this programme do not include fresh vegetables, however. Madagascar is also extremely vulnerable to natural disasters linked to climate change. The City Council of Antananarivo, the Institute for City Trades (IMV/Ile-deFrance) and WFP have collaborated to respond to the challenges of both food security and nutrition as well as climate change through urban agriculture involving schools.
Food empowerment zones in Johannesburg’s farms
milanurbanfoodpolicypact.org, October 2018
In the city of Johannesburg, the Gini coefficient – a measure of income inequality – is one of the highest in the world. This inequality is mirrored in the high level of food insecurity, which reaches an average 27 percent citywide and 41 percent in the poorest neighbourhoods. Such a high level of food insecurity is the result of both the inability to access food and the lack of income to afford food. Looking at food distribution and food access systems in Johannesburg, it becomes clear that food insecurity, though it tracks citywide with income deprivation, is geographically concentrated in the southern urban fringe. In this area, the price, quality and availability of food are all challenges that keep citizens in a condition of food poverty. In order to provide a solution to this issue, the Municipality designed an intervention that not only addresses the issue of food security, but also provides food resilience for the City’s more vulnerable in habitants. To this end, the City’s priority is to address challenges of food security and food resilience, as well as related challenges such as creating entrepreneurial opportunities, skill building, and nutritional/health concerns.
Nairobi: An act to promote and regulate Urban Agriculture
milanurbanfoodpolicypact.org, October 2018
The promotion of agricultural activities in the City of Nairobi was a prerogative of the national government before devolution in July 2013. The local City Council did not have an Agriculture Department at the time and farming practices were regulated using prohibitive city regulations. The City Inspectorate and the Planning Departments were then still using the municipal by-laws to inhibit farming activities in certain areas, limiting the activity of urban farmers. The Urban Planning Department had also not incorporated agricultural activities for land use, which created conflict between local government and the provision of services to its citizens. These developed into serious issues, especially in informal settlements, which lack proper water and sanitation services, along with equally pressing concerns in relation to food security, hunger and poverty. In response to the situation, the Nairobi City County developed the Urban Agriculture Promotion and Regulation Act (known as “the Act”), providing a comprehensive regulatory framework in support of urban agriculture
Quelimane: organic production from market waste
milanurbanfoodpolicypact.org, October 2018
Quelimane, the fourth-largest city in Mozambique, is facing severe environmental damage caused by poor waste management, coupled with an increase in agricultural production due to continual population growth. As population grows into the rural and peri-urban areas surrounding the city, environmental impacts from increased food production include devastation of mangrove areas and an increase in food waste in markets. At the municipal level the priority is to build the resilience of the city and at the same time support food production for food security. Therefore, as a member of ICLEI-RUAF CITYFOOD project and as a signatory of the Milan Urban Food Policy Pact, the Municipality of Quelimane launched an initiative in support of intensive food production in small fields owned by family households using only organic fertilizers. Institution of organic production practices laid the foundation for the production of compost from food waste. Waste management and reuse has the potential to reduce the spread of diseases among the population and to curb malnutrition, increasing household food production.
Rooftop farming: why vertical gardening is blooming in Kampala
Ugandans are finding creative solutions to the growing challenges of urbanisation. When Martin Agaba realised his urban farm had run out of space, he decided the solution was not to expand outwards but upwards. “We realised we had to use the roof,” he says. Of all the innovations that have galvanised people in his district in the Ugandan capital Kampala to grow their own food, these vertical box plantations remain his favourite. Kwagala farm, located on half an acre of land, is the brainchild of Diana Nambatya, a professor in public health, who began growing vegetables to save money on food in 2010. After receiving two cows as a dowry, she decided to use their dung to generate biogas for her home. Her burgeoning urban farm soon attracted the attention of the neighbours, and in 2012 she started training women at a small demonstration centre. The urban farm is just one of many springing up in and around Kampala, a city of more than 1.5 million people, as residents find creative solutions to the challenges of urbanisation.
2nd Urban Agri Africa 2018 Summit: Launching Successful Commercial Indoor Farming in Africa and its Cities
The 2nd Urban Agri Africa 2018 Summit will be held on September 25 – 26 at the Sunnyside Park Hotel in Johannesburg, South Africa. With the agriculture sector at the centre of ongoing discussions and debate around transformation and economic empowerment, this 2nd Urban Agri Africa 2018 Summit is not only timely, but highly relevant. Organized by Magenta Global, the two-day Conference includes a dynamic offering of engaging presentations and panel discussions. It will bring together all agriculture stakeholders – from policy makers, trade and investment promotion agencies, farmers (both smallholders and commercial farmers), credit and agri-financiers, agri start-ups, and system integrators under one roof to learn, share and implement the latest developments and opportunities presented by vertical farming, urban greenhouses, green roofs and controlled environment agriculture. The latest joint ventures and partnerships will be highlighted, case studies shared and strategies robustly debated. New trends, opportunities and technologies will be showcased, once again providing the perfect platform for extraordinary networking opportunities for all Summit participants.
Vertical Farming Market to Grow due to Raising use of Enhanced Technology, Developing Trend of Indoor Agriculture, and Increasing Awareness Among Consumers
Global Vertical Farming Market is expected to grow at a significant CAGR in the upcoming years as the scope and its applications are rising enormously across the globe. Vertical farming is termed as a practice of growing products in vertically stacked layers using several methods like aeroponic, soil, or hydroponic. It plays important role in the production of food in challenging surroundings such as where arable land is unavailable or rare. Several vertical farms use enclosed structures that stack vertically for better natural light exposure. It uses a mixture of artificial light and natural light. Vertical Farming Market is segmented based on method, component, crop type, and region. Aquaponic, Hydroponic, and Aeroponic are the methods that could be explored in Vertical Farming in the forecast period. Hydroponic growth mechanism sector accounts for the significant market share of Vertical Farming and is estimated to lead the overall market in the coming years. This may be because there is no need of soil for irrigation instead water is used and high in demand amongst crop manufacturers. Services like hardware, software and other components that could be explored in Vertical Farming in the forecast period.
Urban agriculture could transform food security
Using science, technology and innovation (STI) could help promote the use of urban agriculture to sustain food and nutrition security in African cities, experts say. The experts who specialise in agriculture, geography and urban planning say that urban agriculture has been neglected in urban planning and development agenda. Agricultural activities such as crop farming and livestock keeping are deemed as activities of rural dwellers by African urbanites, according to the experts. They explain that the continent needs to increase the adoption of modern technology and innovations in farming such as using agricultural data monitoring sensors that transmit timely data on amount of nutrients in the soil, rainfall and temperatures to mobile phone devices for action. The experts made these comments during the Sustainable African Cities Conference in Ghana last week (3-6 July). The conference that brought together 200 experts from many countries including Kenya, Nigeria, South Africa, Canada and Germany, had delegates discuss current challenges and exploring future pathways for sustainable cities in Africa. The conference was organised by the Ghana Academy of Arts and Sciences (GAAS) in collaboration with the German National Academy of Sciences Leopoldina, the Network of African Academy of Sciences and the Federal Ministry of Education and Research, Germany.
Kiambu farmer supplying Nairobi hotels and restaurants with non-heading lettuce
A vegetable farmer in Lower Kabete, a modern residential area located about 10 Kilometers from Nairobi Central Business District is growing non-headed lettuce also known as looseleaf, cutting or bunching lettuce which is in high demand by major hotels and restaurants in the city due to its wide range of usage as compared to headed lettuce. Looseleaf lettuce is most often used for salads and in other kinds of food, such as soups, sandwiches and wraps. It can also be grilled and is a rich source of vitamin K and A, and a moderate source of folate and iron, according to Food and Nutrition Series by Colorado State University in the US. Kenneth Gikinya has been growing the vegetable within his quarter acre piece of plot for over five years now and he says he is encouraged by the fact that he never misses market owing the close proximity of his farm and Nairobi CBD. “What does not bother me is the market for my crops. Right now I have over 10 contacts of traders from City Market and Ngara Market who keep calling to know when I am harvesting. I also have three suppliers of vegetables to some big hotels and restaurants in Nairobi who have asked me to inform them when the crops are ready,” said Kenneth.
13 Vertical Farming Innovations That Could Revolutionize Agriculture
Many have wondered for years if vertical farming is really the answer to the shortage of food in the world. However strange the concept of vertical farming might seem to many startups, it is an ingenious method to produce food in environments where arable land is unavailable or rare at the most. This method is especially handy for challenging environments such as deserts, mountainside towns, and cities where many diverse types of vegetables and fruits are grown using precision agriculture methods and skyscraper-like designs. Vertical farming is a revolutionary and more sustainable method of agriculture than its counterpart as it lowers the requirement of water to up to 70% and also saves considerable space and soil. This innovation in the field of agriculture with sustainability as its motto is making more and more heads turn today with its eco-friendly methods and making the possibility of farming real in difficult environs. Let us check out the top 13 vertical farming innovations that could end up in your plate in the near future!
An Agricultural Revolution
St Lucia star, 16/06/2018
How GreenTech is transforming the agricultural industry in Saint Lucia and beyond: In the past, successful farmers relied on the land, the weather, their instincts and a little bit of luck. Thanks to a boom in ‘green technology’ there are now a lot more tools at their disposal. The uptake of GreenTech among agricultural pioneers is helping to modernise the industry and streamline farming, as well as aiding the Caribbean in achieving its goal of food security. More than US$800m was invested in agricultural technology (‘agtech’) globally between 2012 and 2016, according to research group CB Insights. “Technology has been the main driver of change in most industries, and agriculture is no different,” says Warren Kellman, Managing Director of Ino-Gro Inc, a hydroponic farm in Barbados. “New technologies are being created every single day around the world and people are coming up with creative solutions [to environmental challenges].” Ino-Gro Inc is one of those creative solutions. Launched in 2016 by Kellman and a friend, the farm is the first of its kind in Barbados and consists of a 40ft shipping container stacked with walls of leafy greens and operated through a fully automated, online system. Kellman and his team can monitor and control the environment – temperature, humidity, LED lighting – within the container through an app downloaded to their smartphones. Sensors, timers and alerts feed them information in real-time, with all data available via the cloud.
Hydroponics, Sustainable Solution in Agriculture now in Togo
Tech in Africa, 15/06/2018
Scott Massey is a graduate of Purdue University as well as the founder of Heliponix LLC; his startup. This developed startup is a kitchen tool, which grows garden vegetables all year and he believed it would offer sustainable solutions to many farmers. Recently, he traveled to Togo in Africa so that he could lead a workshop, to enlighten Togolese on developing an agricultural method, which offered sustainability. Therefore, this program was based on the hydroponic system at the University of Lome. In Togo, most of the citizens depend on subsistence farming, and it is crucial for the country to improve its agriculture for the sake of improving the yield without investing a lot of capital. As a result, this compelled Massey to bring hydroponic into this country because it involved growing plants in liquids through utilization of the soil. This farming system is good because it uses less water for the whole year at a much faster rate. Massey conducted this program with the help of his friend Delia Diabangouaya whom he met at Purdue University. With the help of the Mandela Washington Fellowship Reciprocal Exchange Component, the two had lectures at the University of Lome so that they could enlighten students on the hydroponic technology so that they would implement this farming back at home.
UA Magazine no. 34 – Measuring Impact
ruaf.org, May 2018
In the past year we have seen the development of various assessment and indicator frameworks to help cities to map the current status and performance of their city region food system. With this magazine we like to explore how such assessment frameworks have concretely supported planning and policy, and have enabled cities to measure and monitor changes in relation to food strategies and action plans.
Vertical farming raises the bar for sustainable agriculture
horti daily, 27/04/2018
Sustainability is a hot issue for growers these days. From greenhouses to open-field operations, growers are looking to reduce their impact on the environment. A trailblazing industry in this respect is the vertical farming sector. We spoke to Robert Colangelo, CEO of Green Sense Farms, about the central role sustainability plays in his company.
Robert Colangelo isn’t your typical farmer. He’s founded ten environmental startups that all deal with sustainability. “My philosophy has always been market-based solutions to environmental problems. If you find an economic solution, you’re going to solve problems much more efficiently than if forced by legislation.”
Green Sense Farms, which builds and operates vertical farms around the world, is one of his most successful ventures. Another area of activity for him is brownfield redevelopment. While educating people about building sustainable cities and building green projects on brownfields, he came across many sustainability initiatives. With no dedicated medium to report advancements, Robert decided to start one himself: the Green Sense radio show, which is syndicated on 37 stations, and available as a podcast.
European project promotes rooftop greenhouses
horti daily, 26/04/2018
Reducing greenhouse gas emissions is a major international concern in the fight against global warming, threatening our entire ecosystem. The construction sector obviously has a major role to play and, if energy retrofitting of buildings is one way to contribute, another solution could well come from above… In this context, European countries have committed themselves to the “GROOF” project, for “Greenhouses to Reduce CO2 on RooFs”, which in Luxembourg is supported by the CDEC (Conseil pour le Développement Economique de la Construction) with the support of the INTERREG NWE programme. The budget of the project is around €4.9M and co-financed at 60% by Interreg. It is an innovative cross-sectoral approach to reduce CO2 emissions from the construction and agricultural sectors by combining energy sharing and local food production. 11 Partners coming from France, Belgium, Germany, Spain and Luxembourg are involved and led by CDEC (Council for Economic Development of the Construction sector) in Luxembourg : Training Institute for Construction skills (IFSB /LU), University of Liège (BE), Groupe One (BE), Cluster Eco-Construction (BE), Scientific and Technical Centre for Building Technology (CSTB /FR), Gally Farms (Fermes de Gally /FR), ASTREDHOR (FR), EBF GmbH (DE), Trier University of applied Sciences (HS-Trier/IfaS /DE), Autonomous University of Barcelona (E).
Grim stats: 900,000 slum dwellers starving, many kids malnourished
About 900,000 of the three million residents of the capital’s informal settlements are starving, a survey indicates. The city’s total population is more than four million. Further, 22 per cent of children in slums are malnourished and some are at risk of dying, the survey indicates. Korogocho slum is the worst hit by hunger and malnutrition. The findings are contained in the Early Warning and Action Mechanism Strategy survey. It was carried out by City Hall in partnership with the Kenya Red Cross, Oxfam and World Concerns. “We are buying nutritional supplements and food, in some cases even water and taking it to them. It has not been given much publicity but that is what is happening. The situation is serious down there,” Wachira said. He said his department is encouraging city residents to adopt urban agriculture to improve food security. Over 80 per cent of food consumed in Nairobi comes from outside the county, mostly from Kiambu, Narok, Machakos, Kajiado, Muranga and Nakuru. “We want Nairobians to produce their own food, however little. We encourage them to embrace hydroponics — planting vegetables without soil. It is simple, you just lay pipes on pipes on the wall and connect it to a water source and use liquid fertiliser,” he said.The county is mobilising youths to work in groups, providing them with seedlings and fertiliser and expert advice on urban agriculture.
Disentangling urban and rural food security in West Africa
Strategies to fight hunger and early warning systems often focus on identifying food crises rather than longer-term trends, and concentrate on rural areas. Data on the food and nutrition security situation of West Africa’s growing urban population is scarce and fragmented. Using geo-referenced information available in the Demographic and Health Surveys (DHS), this report estimates the total number and prevalence of under-nutrition and over-nutrition in West Africa for both urban and rural areas. The analysis reveals that almost 110 million people in West Africa are not receiving the correct nutrition for their needs. Over 58 million people in the region are underweight, 22 million of which live in cities. Another 52 million are either overweight or obese, the large majority of whom are adult urban dwellers. This situation reveals the severity of the “double burden” of under- and over-nutrition. It also calls for greater efforts to identify appropriate metrics to monitor food and nutrition security in urban areas.
Urban and Peri-urban Agriculture in the EU
This study presents a state of the art overview on urban agriculture and peri-urban agriculture (UPUA), the diversity of phenomena, motivations, distinctive features, benefits and limitations. UPUA is contextualized in relation to societal and economic transformations, EU strategic objectives, policies and regional food system approaches. Using best practice examples, the study demonstrates the need for an improved integration of UPUA into the policy agenda across sectors, domains and governance levels.
City Farming in Abuja is Growing an Entrepreneurial Spirit
Farming in Abuja is an enterprise that a significant number of new age entrepreneurs are investing in. Agriculture and agribusiness are two words that have become prominent in Nigeria recently, with the government encouraging youths to get involved and emphasizing the need for diversification from the country’s major source of revenue, oil, which accounts for over 95 percent of export earnings and about 40 percent of gove rnment revenues, according to the International Monetary Fund. Economic analysts believe agriculture is an untapped sector of the economy that will help to provide lasting solutions to the high unemployment rate among youths who are willing and able to work. This call, however, requires creating innovative ideas from a new generation farmers in order to sustain the nation’s economy. Here’s one of the young entrepreneurs breaking grounds in city farming.
More African Farms Turning To Hydroponics
As climate change begins to pose new challenges for conventional outdoor food production methods, hydroponic farming is fast gaining popularity in South Africa. Considering the current drought in the Western Cape and other parts of South Africa, you may say it is a forced shift, but it does bode well for the environment and our scarcest resource on planet earth – water. For anyone who cares about our resources, it’s not difficult to obtain research about the “carbon footprint” of food transportation and the many other ways in which we harm our environment through producing our food. It is clear that we cannot continue on the way we have always produced food. NFT Hydro, as the manufacturers and suppliers of Hydroponic NFT Systems and equipment, has become a key part of this shift change in South Africa & Africa. We have seen a significant up-take in growing hydroponically from our South African urban farmers, rooftops growers in our cities and commercial farmers searching for alternative methods of farming to meet the demand for higher yield and the consumers’ concern for the environment. These urban growers and emerging farmers in South Africa are able contribute to food security through the KHULA farmers App (meaning GROW) which allow farmers to list their produce and track real time inventory levels from emerging farmers as well as basic production forecasting. The App also includes a crowd-sourcing marketplace where farmers can satisfy market demand and incoming orders.
The planet is growing more food than ever, and yet millions of people continue to starve worldwide. People are hungry everywhere — in the country, in the suburbs. But increasingly, one of the front lines in the war against hunger is in cities. As urban populations grow, more people find themselves in food deserts, areas with “[l]imited access to supermarkets, supercenters, grocery stores, or other sources of healthy and affordable food,” according to a report by the U.S. Department of Agriculture. New technologies are changing the equation, allowing people to grow food in places where it was previously difficult or impossible, and in quantities akin to traditional farms. Urban farms can be as simple as traditional small outdoor community gardens, or as complex as indoor vertical farms in which farmers think about growing space in three-dimensional terms. These complex, futuristic farms can be configured in a number of ways, but most of them contain rows of racks lined with plants rooted in soil, nutrient-enriched water, or simply air. Each tier is equipped with UV lighting to mimic the effects of the sun. Unlike the unpredictable weather of outdoor farming, growing indoors allows farmers to tailor conditions to maximize growth. With the proper technology, farming can go anywhere. That’s what the new trend of urban farming shows — these farms go beyond simple community vegetable gardens to provide food to consumers in surrounding areas. All vertical farmers need is some space and access to electricity, no special facilities required. Farmers can buy everything they need to start and maintain their farms online as easily as shopping on Amazon.
New study delves into the global value of urban agriculture
From improving access to healthy foods to cutting pollution, a new study has looked in to the benefits of an industry that might one day be worth as much as USD$160 billion. From the roof tops of Chicago to a tunnel 33 feet beneath a busy London street, urban agriculture is taking off. But with its sporadic emergence, its true potential has not been made entirely clear. Now, for the first time, a study by the National Science Foundation (NSF), Arizona State University (ASU) and Google researchers has used a data-driven approach to assesses the value of urban agriculture and quantify its benefits at a global scale. They report their findings in a paper published in the current issue of the American Geophysical Union journal Earth’s Future. “For the first time, we have a data-driven approach that quantifies the ecosystem benefits from urban agriculture,” said Matei Georgescu, a geographer at ASU and corresponding author of the paper. “Our estimates of ecosystem benefits show the potential for millions of tons of food production, thousands of tons of nitrogen sequestration, billions of kilowatt hours of energy savings, and billions of cubic meters of avoided storm runoff.”