Agriculture is often associated with rural environments. While a lot of the food we eat in fact comes from rural areas, (in Nigeria, 70% of rural people are subsistence smallholder farmers and they produce 90% of Nigeria’s food), agriculture can also be practiced in urban areas.
Urban agriculture, also known as urban farming or urban gardening, is the practice of cultivating and distributing food in urban areas. Some of the food products that can be grown in urban agriculture are grains, root crops, rhizomes, mushrooms, and vegetables as well as ornamental plants and medicinal herbs.
Urban gardening can also involve the rearing of livestock such as poultry, rabbits, goats, fish and others.
Types of Urban Agricultural Practices
Backyard Gardens: Many people have small gardens or farms in their backyards where they grow food mostly for personal consumption. They plant crops such as tomatoes, maize, pepper, and vegetables. Some of the reasons why people venture into backyard farming is because it saves cost, guarantees organically grown produce, and is also a form of exercise.
Rooftop Gardens: As the name implies, a rooftop garden is a garden on the roof of a building. Though it is mostly used for aesthetic purposes, it can also provide food. However, not just any plant can be grown on the roof due to structural reasons. Plants such as aromatic herbs for example is suitable for rooftop gardens and are usually grown in pots.
Urban Beekeeping: Bees have a symbiotic relationship with flowering plants which makes them an important part of the food chain and earth’s ecosystem as a whole. They serve as natural pollinators for plants and trees.
Worker bees collect nectar from flowers and while doing so, the pollen on their body rubs off on the flowers. This pollen transfer makes it possible to fertilize ovaries and enable reproduction. The plants are then able to produce fruits and seeds.
Urban farmers can keep bee colonies in urban areas to encourage biodiversity. They also provide environmental and economic benefits.
Engaging in these urban agricultural practices can lead to positive outcomes such as:
Increasing Food Security: Food security exists when all people, at all times, have physical, social, and economic access to sufficient, safe, and nutritious food, which meets their dietary needs and preferences for an active and healthy life. Urban agriculture increases food security by providing healthy substitutes for purchased foods. Households who purchase urban agriculture have more access to a variety of nutritious foods and vegetables.agriculture helps to correct this by reducing the price of healthy food through middle man elimination and increasing the opportunity for community members to participate in the growing of food.
Making Food Traceable: One of the major problems of the food supply chain is the lack of food traceability. Urban agriculture however seeks to provide a solution to this. When farmers produce and distribute food within the same area, they make it easier for consumers to trace where the food came from as opposed to when it has to be transported from different areas. This makes it easier to determine the authenticity of the food.
Increasing Economic Growth: Urban agriculture encourages the use of land to feed people. Spaces such as rooftop gardens and vertical gardens take up minimal space but produces a lot of fresh and healthy food. Urban agriculture cuts down on fossil fuel production which farmers would have needed to transport, package, and sell food.Urban farms also aid the flow of income within the region. This makes it easier for farmers to connect with markets where they can supply directly and maximize profit.
Creating Job Opportunities: Urban agriculture helps to create job opportunities in urban environments by employing the services of dispatchers, sales representatives, cleaners, gardeners, and many others. This strengthens our economy.
Learning: While creating their own foods, urban dwellers can learn different processes in farming such as gardening techniques and others. It also helps people learn more about sustainable agriculture.
Do you have any other reasons why everyone should be urban gardeners? Let us know below
Important Food Habits You Should Adapt This Year
It’s a new year and while you’re writing up your new year resolutions, we hope “contributing to food security” is one of them. If it isn’t, there’s still time to add it.
One of the biggest threat to food security is Food loss and waste (FLW). According to the FAO, approximately one-third of all produced foods (1.3 billion tons of edible food) for human consumption is lost and wasted every year across the entire supply chain. When food is wasted, the resources such as water and nutrients which were used to produce that food, are also wasted.
With numbers that high, it might seem like adapting the food habits which will be discussed later in this post will not solve affect anything. However, if we all make our own little efforts from our various homes, the results might surprise us.
Shop Smart: Have you ever found an old banana you bought rotting out in the fridge because you bought it and forgot about it? Probably.
Shopping is not easy. Sometimes we end up buying and forgetting about the existence of what we bought, sometimes we end up buying more than we need, or sometimes we don’t buy enough. To be a smarter shopper, it is important to not only make a shopping list, but to stick to it. This will help reduce impulse buying which could lead to food waste.
Shopping smart also means knowledge of that buying in bulk may not always be smart. You might be certain of what you will eat next Monday but by next Monday, someone takes you out for a meal and what happens to the food produce you bought ahead of Monday? It could go to waste.
The reality of life is that plans change and purchasing food items against the unforeseeable future could lead to waste. You could easily see an advert for a nice meal which could cause you to change your plans to cook dinner. What happens to the food produce you had already bought? It could go to waste.
A study conducted by Victoria Ligon of the University of Arizona to understand how people acquire, prepare, consume, and discard food. She tracked shopping and food preparation patterns and her results confirmed that bulk-buying too often leads to food waste.
“To me, the big-picture finding is that while this meal planning helps us psychologically feel less stressed about all of the home tasks we have to manage, it is not easy to execute. In the end, it results in inefficiency and waste because food is perishable.”
- Victoria Ligon.
She also explained that the rapid increase of fast food has created more food options. This has caused people to change meal plans without notice. This could cause the previous meal plan to go to waste if products had already been purchased for it.
These are some key points you should take into consideration when shopping so you can make smarter decisions.
Pay Attention to Expiry Dates: You might feel justified throwing out food because it is expired. However, this doesn’t have to be the case. You don’t have to wait till the food expires before you take action.
Another reason why buying in bulk should be discouraged is because we are humans and sometimes, we forget. Purchasing canned food in bulk can also lead to expiration and eventual wastage.
One of the ways of curbing this is by creating a “last in, first out” system in your refrigerator. This means that the last thing you put in should be the first thing out. That way, nothing overstays its welcome in the fridge. You should also use this system for expiry dates. The foods closest to their expiration should be used up before the ones whose expiration is still far off.
Which of the above listed habit will you be adapting? Let’s know in the comments section below.
Elnefeidi Group Secures African Development Bank $60 million loan To Boost Agriculture
The African Development Bank’s Board of Directors has approved a $60m loan to Elnefeidi Group Holding Company to help finance its long-term agriculture and food expansion programme.
The planned expansion includes increasing agricultural productivity, enhancing related infrastructure, food processing and distribution. It will directly contribute in developing Sudan’s livestock value chain (poultry and beef) by increasing the country’s export capacity for value-added livestock products. This will help reduce the economic value that the country loses by exporting millions of live animals each year.
“Agricultural transformation is one of the Bank’s top five strategic priorities and the Bank is delighted to have identified a viable private sector actor like Elnefeidi Group which has a proven track record and through which we can channel the Bank’s support” said Atsuko Toda, African Development Bank Director for Agriculture Finance and Rural Development.
The loan is expected to contribute significantly to food security, food import substitution, and household incomes by creating jobs and increasing local productivity and distribution by over half a million metric tonnes each year across several countries. Elnefeidi Group employs over 1,842 people and has distribution networks covering North, East and Central Africa.
“This approval to Elnefeidi Group is another demonstration of the African Development Bank’s continued support and strong commitment to enable, deepen, and empower the private sector in Sudan, as an engine of economic and inclusive growth,” said Raubil Durowoju, the Bank’s Country Manager for Sudan. “This is also consistent with Sudan’s National Agriculture Investment Plan, which seeks to achieve agriculture-linked growth, largely through private investments.”
Sudan is widely considered to hold immense food production potential. Sixty-three percent of its land area is classified as agricultural, and its competitive advantages include: a promising demographic profile, projected growth in household food demand, and proximity to a range of markets in Central Africa, North Africa and the Middle East, many of them food-deficit countries.
Letter to a Farmer
Wheat Farmer (shutterstock)
You are my hero. You might think your life is mundane, perhaps even redundant, however for millions like me on the outside looking in, you are extraordinary.
For many of us who are not farmers, we drive past your swaying fields and hum about spacious skies and kernels of corn.
You till the soil from morning till night. Waking up every day to ensure the labour of your hands is coming to fruition. You are the epitome of hard work and determination and although that may sound cliche, it is true.
Farmer, you are indeed wonderful. You plant seeds in the soil and watch them grow. You help to build nations and communities both at home and abroad.
Although policies remain in place to stifle your trade or limit the way you import and export goods, you stay committed to your trade and it’s robust returns.
For the days, months and years that you toil, for the food you give and for the way you inspire millions around the world, I say thank you.
Please don’t let anyone tell your story, especially those who have no idea what it’s like to produce their best work.
If many of us could work from dusk to dawn, then receive one-fourth of the money that the crop was worth only a year ago, we would not last in our professions.
I doubt most of us would stay in our trades if we received one-fourth pay for our best efforts.
Thank you for your dedication and contribution to society. Thank you for making the world a better place. Your commitment needs to be emulated by many.
Hopefully, you would pass the torch of your excellence to the younger generation and give them a chance to fill the fields with robust crops and produce.
Your work reminds us that farming is indeed the essential work that needs to be done.
A loyal consumer.