Africa / Asia / Farming Systems / Food Safety / Food Security / Latin America / Nutrition

Where should urban livestock raising be practiced? Where curtailed?

Dairy cows, buffaloes and other livestock are kept in India's urban as well as rural areas (photo by ILRI/MacMillan)

Dairy cows, buffaloes and other livestock are kept in India’s urban as well as rural areas (photo by ILRI/MacMillan).

‘. . . Urban agriculture can . . . have important benefits for food security. Although the impact might be small, it can be crucial for some groups of society, such as the urban poor as well as women of reproductive age and children. Policy responses will vary across countries – or even within the same city – depending on the specific local situation. They might also differ between specific activities, as livestock production in urban centres can be expected to pose greater challenges than maintaining a backyard garden.

‘In some cases benefits from urban agriculture will clearly outweigh potential negative consequences, such as environmental pollution or competition over scarce resources. In these cases policy makers should actively promote urban agriculture and find ways to integrate it in urban land-use planning. Providing technical guidance and training on good production techniques, for example, could minimize risks such as health hazards, water contamination and food safety concerns.

‘In others there might be more efficient ways to raise food security of the poor such as promoting alternative income generating activities, expanding non-agricultural employment opportunities or improving the functioning of urban food markets.

‘Policy makers should thus carefully weigh available options. Simply banning farming activities in cities – as has often been the case in the past – is not necessarily the best alternative. Policy responses could instead focus on improving land use rights and specifying which activities are allowed and where. Without a careful analysis of existing opportunities and risks, policy makers will miss an important opportunity to better integrate agricultural activities into urban development, and ensure that it helps to achieve social, economic and environmental sustainability.’

Read the whole article or the policy brief itself at the Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations: ‘Fighting Poverty and Hunger: What role for urban agriculture?’, August 2010.

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