Urban and peri-urban horticulture in the century of cities: Lessons, challenges, opportunities
In 2008, the world's urban population surpassed, for the first time, the number of people living in rural areas. Within 15 years, almost 60% of world population - or 4.5 billion people - will be urban. Cities in low-income developing countries are growing at an especially rapid rate. Kinshasa, capital of one of the world's poorest countries, is now the world's fastest growing future megacity. The United Nations estimates that the number of urban dwellers in sub-Saharan Africa will rise from 320 million to 540 million by 2025, and will exceed one billion people by 2050.
Already, more than one billion people worldwide live in urban slums, with limited access to even basic health, water and sanitation services. The ongoing world economic downturn and the persistence of high food prices affect particularly the urban poor, who spend 60% or more of their income on food.
To help developing countries meet the challenges of massive and rapid urbanization, the Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations (FAO) launched in 2001 a multidisciplinary initiative, Food for the Cities, which aims at ensuring the access of urban populations to safe food and healthy and secure environments.
A major component of Food for the Cities is intensification of horticultural production in and around urban areas. Urban and peri-urban horticulture (UPH) cannot meet, by itself, cities' exponentially growing demand for fresh vegetables, fruit and other horticultural produce, and should not divert resources from horticulture in rural areas. However, FAO experience indicates that, where farm-to-market systems are inadequate, it can fill critical gaps and make a significant contribution to urban food supply and livelihoods.
Over the past decade, FAO multidisciplinary programmes and projects in developing and emerging countries have focused on the policies, institutional frameworks, farming practices and support systems needed to optimize the sector's contribution. It has opened a dialogue with national policymakers and municipal authorities on UPH issues and, through synergies with partner organizations, helped develop policies, strategies and technical guidelines.
Together with partner organizations, FAO and the Ministry of Agriculture of the Republic of Senegal have convened this international symposium in order to:
- review experiences and lessons learned
- assess UPH's contribution to urban food supply, nutrition and livelihoods
- capitalize on current experiences and knowledge
- foster UPH initiatives and networking
- lay the foundations for increased policy and institutional support for UPH
The symposium is expected to provide guidance for the preparation of FAO's first "Status Report on Urban and Peri-Urban Horticulture in Africa" (SOUPHA), to be published in 2011.
The symposium will cover key links in the production, supply and value chains including:
- securing access to land and water
- integrated plant production and protection
- post-harvest handling and processing technologies
- product quality and safety
Ngor and Diarama Complex
Route de Ngor, Dakar
Cheikh Sadibou Diop
Ababacar Sy Gaye
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