India’s 377-million urban population is expected to grow by another 300 million by 2050 and yet, agricultural land is rapidly shrinking in urban areas, leaving city dwellers increasingly reliant on rural farmers for meeting their sustenance requirements.
Navya P K
Aug 1, 2017
Despite adverse conditions, some farmer groups have thrived. The Yamuna bank farmers, who are not legally acknowledged at all, have been farming and selling their produce in Delhi markets for generations. In Cuttack, slum residents do farming to produce food for themselves, and sell the surplus in local markets. In 2009 in Mumbai, a charitable Trust helped the residents of Ambedkar Nagar slum clean up a garbage dump near their homes and convert it into a community farm.
These, however, largely constitute individual and sporadic successes rather than a systematic, sustained development of urban agriculture. India’s governments have been largely ignoring the issues faced by urban farmers, while continuing to promote household-level gardening.
In Kerala, which is rapidly urbanising, the state government supplies gardening kits to households and promotes collective farming projects by self-help groups. Hyderabad, Pune and Chennai municipal corporations also supply subsidised materials to residents for rooftop gardening.
In contrast, in some countries, municipalities have taken the lead to promote urban agriculture on a much larger scale. For example, the model of Belo Horizonte city in Brazil is widely recognised for eliminating hunger while increasing local food production and farmers’ incomes.
The city enacted a municipal law guaranteeing food security in 1993, in response to a citizen’s movement. The municipality developed a comprehensive system that included developing farming technology, giving credit to farmers, supporting farmers’ markets etc. It is widely recognised as a model that has almost eliminated hunger and malnutrition while increasing local food production and farmers’ income.