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.
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.
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!
Hydroponics, Sustainable Solution in Agriculture now in Togo
Tech in Africa, 18/06/2018
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.
An Agricultural Revolution
St Lucia star, 18/06/2018
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.
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.
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.
Vertical farming raises the bar for sustainable agriculture
horti daily, 14/05/2018
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).
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.
Grim stats: 900,000 slum dwellers starving, many kids malnourished
thestar.co.ke, Apr. 17, 2018
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.
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.