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Empowering urban farmers’ groups
International experts and delegates from ten developing-country cities held a three-day workshop at FAO headquarters in Rome this week to discuss how to strengthen the role of low-income urban and peri-urban producer organizations.

The organizations are seen as vital in ensuring the growth of city-based agriculture. Their potential role includes lobbying government and city authorities to ensure that appropriate space is set aside for urban farming – often a tough assignment given the rising land and property prices caused by population pressure.

They also have a key part to play in spreading information and know-how, in maintaining quality standards, and where possible in establishing brand names for their members’ produce.

Constraints on and opportunities for the organizations were reviewed by the workshop, which considered case studies on: Hyderabad; Phnom Penh; Harare; Kinshasa; Accra; Cairo; Nairobi; Antananarivo; Dakar and Caracas.

Urban agriculture is assuming growing importance in Kenya, where urban populations grew 90 percent between 1994 and 1997, the meeting was told. With 50 percent of the Nairobi's population of 2.5 million living below the poverty line, urban farming represented a significant potential source of extra income.

An estimated 50 000 bags of maize and 15 000 bags of beans are produced in Nairobi annually, while at the last count there were 24 000 dairy cattle yielding an annual 42 million litres of milk. Nairobi residents also keep 250 000 chickens and about 45 000 goats and sheep.

Hyderabad is India’s sixth largest city, with a population of 5.7 million in 2001. Rapid urbanization, driven by rural out-migration and the rapid expansion of the IT services sector, has resulted in a sharp increase in land prices and a corresponding decrease in urban “farmland”.

Urban farmers in the Hyderabad area specialize mainly in fresh vegetables, green fodder and dairy products. Leafy vegetable production increased by 188 percent between 2002 and 2006.

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Empowering urban farmers’ groups

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