Published by City Farmer, Canada's Office of Urban Agriculture


International Urban Agriculture

Food (C) Copyright: City Farmer

While many organizations in cities in the United States, Canada and Europe have been networking to develop their inner city garden projects, important work has been going on in cities that are part of what is often called the "developing world". Many opportunities exist in Urban Agriculture for joint projects between the richer and poorer nations. Information on this work has been hard to find but recently a number of excellent publications have come out which show International Urban Agriculture being treated very seriously by development professionals.

Landmark Publication Just Released
By The United Nations Development Program

See Urban Agriculture: Food, Jobs and Sustainable Cities

1. Canada's International Development Research Centre in Ottawa has produced Cities Feeding People: "An Examination of Urban Agriculture in East Africa", 1994, 147 pgs., IRDC
PO Box 8500, Ottawa, ON, Canada K1G 3H9
IDRC's Web Site

"For the urban poor of the South, food is becoming a prohibitively expensive commodity. By the late 1980s, cities of the developing world were required to import half of their food supply. Urban agriulture, it is argued, can reduce this dependency. But most Southern governments do not support it...Cities Feeding People provides the hard facts needed to convince governments that urban agriculture should have a larger role in feeding the urban population."

This collection of papers includes a number of excellent summary articles including "Urban Agriculture Is Already Feeding Cities" by Irene Tinker and "Leading Urban Agriculture into the 21st Century: Renewed Institutional Interest" by Luc J. A. Mougeot, Program Officer in the Environment and Natural Resources Division of IDRC, and a long time proponent of International Urban Agriculture.


2. The IDRC, perhaps the leader in promoting International Urban Agriculture, published Farming in the City: The Rise of Urban Agriculture in October, 1993. Articles in their publication look at urban farming in China, Bolivia, West Africa, Uganda, Ethiopia, Tanzania, and Kenya.

"Millions of people in the growing cities of the South have become urban farmers in recent decades. They grow vegetables, raise livestock, poultry and fish, and practice many other types of agriculture. Researchers are paying increasing attention to a sector often neglected by governments, one which can contribute greatly to the sustainability of cities. The practitioners of urban agriculture need no convincing about its merits. They enjoy better diets, higher income, employment or combinations of all these benefits."
IDRC Reports, Volume 21, Number 3, 26 pgs.
PO Box 8500, Ottawa, Canada K1G 3H9


3. A recently completed Master's Thesis from the School of Community and Regional Planning at the University of British Columbia shows the growing interest in this subject among student researchers. Fern Hietkamp's Urban Food Production in Bandung, Indonesia: Constraints and Opportunities (111pgs.) argues that urban food production has many benefits. "... It provides a means of self-help for the poor; is a stepping stone for urban environmental management; and a productive, as well as aesthetic, use for open or marginal urban land."
Contact: UBC Centre for Human Settlements
2206 East Mall, 4th Floor
Vancouver, B.C. V6T 1Z3
ph. 604 822-1815
fax. 604 822-6164
Cost $7.50

"... Urban food production in Bandung is described through interviews and observation. Constraints and opportunities at the city system level and at the food producer level are identitfied. This investigation shows that with the current rate of development in Bandung, food production is becoming more difficult because of the increasing competition with other urban activities for resources such as water, air and land. However, many opportunities exist within the current framework of city management that can support food production in the city."

4. Another Canadian source worthy of note is A City of Farmers "Informal Urban Agriculture in the Open Spaces of Nairobi, Kenya" by Donald B. Freeman, McGill-Queen's University Press, 1991, 159 pgs.
To buy directly on-line follow this link:
A City of Farmers:Informal Urban Agriculture in the Open Spaces of Nairobi, Kenya
Chapter titles include "The Lure of the City", "The Role of Women Cultivators", and "The Importance of Urban Agriculture to the Community and the Nation".

"... the shambas (food garden plots) of Nairobi and other urban centres, which for too long have been ignored by researchers and harassed by administrators, may be viewed as symbols of a group of vigorous, energetic and determined workers who, despite poverty and misfortune, have the drive to succeed and to better their existence. Their plots of cropland are gardens of hope, not wastelands of despair."

5. City Food "Crop Selection in Third World Cities"
by Isabel Wade, 1986, 54 pgs.
Urban Resources Systems
783 Buena Vista West
San Francisco, CA 94117, USA

"... This manual collects and synthesizes general information about urban gardening in developing countries that would help to make a good harvest of food crops more likely. Specific information about crops, their growing preferences and their physical structure is also provided in order to contribute to the development of intensive-production strategies for small spaces."

Other Resources

Feeding the Cities: Not by Rice Alone
In 1983-06-10, The Christian Science Monitor wrote about the challenges facing Asian cities trying to feed their ever-growing urban populations. "In Wuxi, a city of about 1 million people, the United Nations Food and Agriculture Organization has been studying how the Chinese have integrated fish, rice, pig, and duck production on small plots around the city. This intensive agriculture, which requires less land and allows farms to exist closer to urban areas, is slowly increasing in Asia." There is an archival fee for this article.

International Ag-Sieve, Volume VI, Number 1, 1993 (Urban Gardens) This interesting issue from 1993 is now on-line and includes eight articles describing UA programs from around the world including: House Gardens in Santa Rosa, Editorial (Home Gardens Grow Hope for Families), Promoting Food Security Through the Homelot, From Garbage to Gardens, Urban Agriculture Feeds Cities, Gardening and Urban Agriculture Resources, How to Garden 'Bio-Intensively', and Book Reviews

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Revised September 26, 1999

Published by City Farmer
Canada's Office of Urban Agriculture