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International Symposium on Urban and Peri-Urban Horticulture (UPH) in the Century of Cities

28/02/2011The First International Symposium on Urban and Peri-Urban Horticulture (UPH) in the Century of Cities held on 6-9 December 2010 in Dakar, Senegal attracted more than 200 participants from 39 countries of Africa, America, Asia and Europe. The symposium was convened and jointly organized by the Government of Senegal and FAO Plant Production and Protection Division under the auspices of ISHS. The symposium covered key links in the production, supply and value chains and it was organized into 5 plenary sessions:
  • Session 1: The impact of urbanization and the role of UPH
  • Session 2: Characterization of urban and peri-urban agriculture
  • Session 3: Measuring the contribution of UPH to urban food supply, nutrition, income generation and livelihoods
  • Session 4: Management of natural resources and waste for UPH
  • Session 5: Safeguarding food quality and safety and growers’ health, safety and welfare

The symposium in itself was a great success for the many participants who attended but also for the variety of issues addressed: 18 stands with different life displays of local and regional partners that have engaged in UPH-related activities; 26 posters; 8 keynote presentations; 20 oral presentations in plenary sessions; 16 seminars/workshops on subject matter specialities (48 presentations) and 3 technical tours (micro-gardens; horticulture training college; seed company). There were also a couple of round table discussions on specific topics that needed to be debated. The symposium also provided information on the UPH's contribution to urban food supply, nutrition and livelihoods and it laid down the foundations for increased policy and institutional support and networking for UPH. The symposium also gave the opportunity to share with participants the preliminary status report on urban and peri-urban horticulture (SOUPHA) based on the survey study conducted prior to the Dakar meeting. The keynote presentation on “The place for urban and peri-urban horticulture in feeding the urban poor: Researchable issues for horticultural science” set the scene for the symposium, highlighting the values of UPH and the key constraints. A key message from the presentation is that UPH for food and income security is a fact of life in thousands of towns and cities around the world.

Other important statements made during the symposium include:
  • UPH has been forever a reality. Interventions consist of upgrading it from an informal status to a fully acknowledged sector of activity that plays a key role in urban food and nutrition security, employment and income generation for the low income families.
  • UPH must not be addressed in isolation, it should be considered as a pillar of city planning and included in strategies to feeding the growing urban population of the developing countries of the world.
  • The urban population will continue to expand. This requires political decisions and strategies to make best use of city space and water resources and integration of UPH in the city master plans.
  • UPH is absent from training and research programmes; it is important to include UPH in training curricula and in the process of developing research strategy.
  • There is a need to develop methodology tools to collect information and to agree on indicators and parameters to characterize UPH and allow for more visibility and monitoring of future progress or regression.
  • UPH contributes to the achievement of the 8 MDGs.
  • Production within the urban and peri-urban environment facilitates access to fresh fruits and vegetables and reduces post-harvest losses significantly.
  • Urban Horticulture within cities reduces the heat island effect by evapo-transpiration and improves the air quality through the photosynthesis process by absorbing CO2 and releasing O2.
  • Rooftop gardens lower the building temperature and allow saving on energy for cooling.
  • Lack or weak pesticide-use regulations and control.
  • UPH contributes to in situ conservation of plant biodiversity.
  • UPH symposium should be organized on a regular basis (3/5 years) to assess the impact of interventions.
The symposium concluded with a plenary session during which participants made concrete recommendations for future interventions. The proceedings of the symposium will be published in a special issue of Acta Horticulturae. Overall, the aim of the symposium to foster lively debate and dialogue between participants was achieved. Feedback during the closing session indicated that participants were extremely satisfied with the outcome of the meeting and they are looking forward to the opportunity to meet in the Second International Symposium on UPH.

Contact: Plant Production and Protection Division, FAO, Rome, Italy, uph-symposium@fao.org

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