Urban Agriculture Notes

City Farmer: Canada's Office of Urban Agriculture

(with special reference to Africa)


4.4 African City Farming: Tapping Underused Human and Land Resources

by Luc J.A. Mougeot
© Copyright 1994
International Development Research Centre

In Africa, cities for which data are available show a growth in the proportion of households practising some form of UA; a few such cities also report a growth in the area under UA. In Lusaka in mid-1980s, a survey of 250 low-income households in five compounds of urban Lusaka found that 45% of them cultivated food within or on the fringe of the city (Sanyal, 1984: 198). Rakodi's (1988) study showed percentages varying between 25 and 56%, reaching 73-80% in some areas (Lee-Smith and Memon, 1994: 74). A 1991 dry-season survey on vegetable supply in urban townships of Lusaka found that nearly 50% of respondents practised vegetable gardening. An FAO-funded household garden survey in 1992-3 found that 42.6% of 648 interviewees within Lusaka Town practised gardening (Drescher, 1994:7). While rainy season urban plots covered an average 300 m2 in the late 1970s (Jaeger and Hickabay, 1980, as per Drescher, 1994: 8), the FAO 1992-3 survey showed that this average area had grown to 423 m2, ranging from 231 to 666 m2 in six different sectors of Lusaka (Drescher, 1994: 8). In Harare, an interpretation aerial photographs of open-space cultivation by ENDA-Zimbabwe (1994) reveals that this type of cultivation has grown by 92.6% in almost four years, from 4,882 ha in 1990 to 9,288 ha in 1994(ENDA-ZB, 1994: 12).

In Maseru, Lesotho (110,000 in 1986), a survey of 4,280 plots showed that 55% had some form of UA ongoing; in low-income areas, horticulture abounded where soils permitted, with small livestock being preferred on more rocky soils; dairy and poultry husbandry were fairly common in higher-income districts (Greenhow, 1994: 2).

In Addis Ababa, a 1983 survey indicated that 17% of 1,352 households surveyed produced their own vegetables (Hormann and Shawel, 1985, as per Egziabher, 1994: 88). Data for Dar es Salaam show that, in 1980, 44% of low- income earners had farms, but in 1987 some 70% of heads of household engaged in some farming or husbandry (Malilyamkono and Bagachwa 1990: 126, cited by Sawio, 1993: 63 64); another study found that nearly 50% of workers and 59% of all residents of 287 households in Dar es Salaam reported having farms in 1987/8 (Tripp, 1989).

A sample of 1 576 urban households (57% in low-income groups) in six Kenyan cities found that 29% grew part of their food and 17% raised livestock in the urban area where they lived in 1984/5 (Lee-Smith et al., 1987). According to one senior UNICEF officer, clearly more of the food sold by street-food vendors in Nairobi (spinach in particular) comes from urban home gardens than was the case years ago (Francis Kamondo, personal communication, 24 August 1993).

In the early 1980s, UNICEF/KCC estimated that a quarter of low-income households farmed, but, in the early 1990s, the Makerere Institute of Social Research study found that 36% of the households surveyed within a 5-km radius from downtown, and 30% of all households citywide, were engaged in some form of agriculture (Maxwell and Zziwa, 1992; Maxwell, 1994: 49). In Kisangani (Zaire), 33% of 426 households responded that they practise UA (Streiffeler 1991: 268, cited by Sawio 1993: 103).

Also, in many studies used here, large percentages of the nonfarming households said they would farm if they had access to land to do so. In 1992-3 nearly 40% of the respondents of the survey in Lusaka Town resorted to gathering of wild fruits and vegetables to supplement their food intake or income; that percentage rose to 80% in peri-urban and rural areas outside Lusaka Town (Drescher, 1994: 4).

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revised, June 12,1995

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