Urban Agriculture and Hydroponics

Brian James hillbily at SPAMintergate.ca
Mon Nov 27 19:58:50 MST 2000

Practical Hydroponics and Greenhouses Magazine
Story Title: Mega Cities Of Tomorrow
Story Description: GEOFF WILSON reports there are 800 million people
practising urban agriculture, and that inorganic and organic hydroponic
technologies will play an increasing role in feeding the world’s poorest
people, as well as the mega cities of tomorrow.


Also check out the Cities Feeding People website referenced below:

Worldwide, it is estimated that 800 million people are engaged in urban
agriculture, which is playing an important role in feeding many of the
world's cities. This is the observation made
by Urban Agriculture magazine, using 1990s data from the United Nations
Development Program (UNDP), and from the UN Food and Agriculture
Organisation (FAO).

According to the magazine, which launched in the Netherlands in June,
urban agriculture can
be expected to spread rapidly as urbanisation increases. The magazine
predicts that by                   2015, some 26 cities of the world can
be expected to each have populations of more than 10
million, and their food needs will focus on urban agriculture that
includes organic waste
management. What the magazine did not say, but no doubt will in future
issues, is that both
inorganic and organic hydroponics will be important urban agriculture
technologies to grow
food in relatively small urban spaces, and offer greater urban food

The world's poorer countries contain the majority of the 800 million
people (7.5% of the
world's population), which are currently practising some form of urban
agriculture. But this is
changing as better waste management for affluent cities is required to
overcome massive
problems of pollution.

In 1988, when the UN agencies first began paying serious attention to
urban expansion problems, only about 25% of the developing world's
absolute poor were living in urban areas. The World Resource Institute
estimates that this year, around 56% of the world's absolute poor are
urban-based. Across all nations, poor and rich, FAO estimate that 2005
will be the year when urban area populations will surpass rural area
populations. Food security requirements of the so-called conurbations,
or mega-cities, some of which can be called ‘rich cities’, will then
require close integration with enlightened waste management.

In mid 1999, the world’s population reached six billion. So, five years
hence, some three billion people will live in cities, most of them in
the largest 26 cities (see map).

As can be seen from Table 1, the pace of population growth has
accelerated during the last
200 years. Table 1 gives a progressive total for billion people
increases. The opportunity for
urban agriculture in its many forms is, therefore, potentially vast.

In my view, future urban agriculture will be based on space-saving,
water-efficient food
production systems that use both inorganic and organic hydroponics. I
say ‘based’ advisedly.
Hydroponics can become ‘aquaponics’, or the production of fish,
crustaceans and molluscs integrated with the hydroponic culture of
plants. It can also be integrated with vermiculture,
and the urban husbandry of certain small animals. This is where the high
technology future of urban agriculture is headed.

A visit to Singapore's magnificent agrotechnology parks gives a glimpse
of the future for urban agriculture, where innovative organic and
inorganic hydroponics have succeeded on the last vestiges of urban land
(about 1,500 hectares) on Singapore Island. Other world cities still
have urban and peri-urban land, or urban rooftops, that can be used for
efficient food production, which will minimise harmful greenhouse gas
emissions in two ways - organic wastes will be diverted from harmful
methane-producing landfill, and petroleum-based transport energy will be

Growing food close to where it is needed by urban populations is a
practice that makes great
economic and environmental sense. The irony is that the 800 million or
so people now practising urban agriculture are doing so for survival.
Yet they are showing the way ahead for developed nations, and the mega
cities of tomorrow.

In the last report on urban agriculture, the website and email address
for Canada's International Development Research Centre (IDRC) were
incorrect. The correct website is
http://www.idrc.ca/cfp/index_e.html , e-mail Agropolis at idrc.ca. Both can
be used to obtain further information on urban agriculture - Ed

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