Attention to urban agriculture has increased markedly during the last couple of decades.
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The number of activities to promote urban agriculture at international, national and local level has grown, but urban farmers in many cities in the world still struggle to get their main survival strategy recognised by city authorities. The demand of policy makers and local practitioners for inspiring examples of successful policies and actions in cities is therefore growing.
Urban agriculture contributes to a wide variety of urban issues and is increasingly being accepted and used as a tool in sustainable city development. Currently the challenge is its integration into city planning and facilitation of its multiple benefits for urban inhabitants. This book seeks to present the current state of affairs regarding urban agriculture and sustainable urban development.
Urban agriculture can be defined as the growing of plants and the raising of animals for food and other uses within and around cities and towns, and related activities such as the production and delivery of inputs, and the processing and marketing of products. Urban Agriculture is located within or on the fringe of a city and comprises of a variety of production systems, ranging from subsistence production and processing at household level to fully commercialised agriculture.
Urban agriculture is generally characterised by closeness to markets, high competition for land, limited space, use of urban resources such as organic solid wastes and wastewater, low degree of farmer organisation, mainly perishable products, high degree of specialisation, to name a few. By supplying perishable products such as vegetables, fresh milk and poultry products, urban agriculture to a large extent complements rural agriculture and increases the efficiency of national food systems.
Having reviewed the literature, Mougeot (2000) concludes that the most important distinguishing character of urban agriculture is not so much its location - or any other of aforementioned criteria - but the fact that it is an integral part of the urban economic, social and ecological system: urban agriculture uses urban resources (land, labour, urban organic wastes, water), produces for urban citizens, is strongly influenced by urban conditions (policies, competition for land, urban markets and prices) and impacts the urban system (effects on urban food security and poverty, ecological and health impacts).