Urban agriculture is a system of food production that takes place in and around cities. Therefore, the exact term to describe this production system is urban and peri-urban agriculture. It is important to mention that it is not only limited to the cultivation of plants to obtain products for food.
It is also considered the cultivation of a great diversity of plants, among which are aromatic, medicinal and ornamental. The concept also includes the breeding of animals to obtain various products. In fact, the concept endorsed by the Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations (FAO) also includes small-scale forestry and aquaculture.
Currently it is estimated that 800 million people in the world practice this type of agriculture. Curiously, in a large number of countries, urban agriculture is an informal activity, in some cases even illegal. Especially because thanks to this system low-income urban residents can access food at low cost, which does not convince everyone.
Throughout its history, urban agriculture has become the main source of food for people with the greatest food shortages in cities. Likewise, it is also becoming an instrument of complaint to have a healthier diet, while respecting the environment.
Advantages of urban agriculture
Urban agriculture is a production system that represents many advantages of very diverse nature. In the social issue, a system generates jobs that can be covered by people from vulnerable groups. In this way, they are offered a way to integrate into the community and obtain employment, with the security that this provides.
In the economic issue, production in urban centers eliminates almost the entire transport chain. In this way, agricultural products do not increase their price too much. Furthermore, eliminating transport means less losses, that is, less wasted food. The quality is also benefited by not having too much damage in the post-harvest.
The environmental issue is also important because urban production allows the rescue of various abandoned areas. It also makes it possible to green the urban centers, with the positive repercussions that this involves. An important aspect is also the recycling of materials, thus improving the ecology of cities.
Disadvantages of urban agriculture
Currently an urban garden can be established without too much regulation, and the lack of this is a great disadvantage of this type of productive system. The problem is that the soils of the cities can have a negative history, so it is very important to study them beforehand. In fact, a lot of city land could be contaminated with heavy metals.
Another current disadvantage of urban agriculture is the lack of regulation for cases that seek to commercialize the products. In addition, this type of agriculture is aimed at sustainable production and organic trends, but without adequate regulation, more than one could take advantage of the situation. That is why regulating this activity is necessary, even to formalize it.
Current situation of urban agriculture
Currently, urban agriculture is a reality. The study and documentation of this productive system is slow. However, the development of such a system is increasing every year. The production figures may not be very high. This is what may have diminished its importance compared to large-scale production. However, its social impact is quite relevant.
Urban agriculture is currently in a situation of expansion. While its history goes back a long time, now is when it is being considered as a solution. If the question is how we are going to feed the 2050 world population, urban agriculture is included in the response we will have to give.
It is important to mention that urban agriculture is currently playing two major roles of great importance. The first is related to the food security of vulnerable groups in urban centers in developing countries. The second has to do with being part of the social demand that seeks healthier foods and whose obtaining represents less damage to the environment.
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