COMMITTEE ON AGRICULTURE
Rome, 31 March-4 April 2003
Report of the Interdepartmental Working Group on Food for the Cities
1. The Interdepartmental Working Group on Food for the Cities (IDWG-FFC), formed following on the recommendation of the 15th Session of COAG in 1999, reported to the 16th Session in 2001 on activities undertaken by its sub-groups on Urban and Peri-Urban Agriculture, and on Food Supply and Distribution to Cities.
2. In the Medium-Term Plan 2002-20071, Food for the Cities was identified as one of the Priority Areas for Inter-disciplinary Action (PAIA), and the IDWG-FFC proceeded to steer the work of the new PAIA-FFC. Technical areas covered by the PAIA-FFC include urban food security and nutrition, urban and peri-urban agriculture (UPA), food marketing and distribution, food processing and street-foods, environment and food safety, urban and peri-urban land tenure and planning, urban forestry, policies and programmes, as well as institutional aspects.
3. FAO work related to FFC is carried out in collaboration with a variety of international partners, including the United Nations Centre for Human Settlements (UNCHS/Habitat), the Strategic Initiative on Urban and Peri-urban Agriculture of the Consultative Group on International Agricultural Research (CGIAR/SIUPA), the Urban Management Programme of the United Nations Development Programme (UNDP/UMP), the International Development Research Centre (IDRC) and the Resource Centre on Urban Agriculture and Forestry in the Netherlands (RUAF). In the past two years activities were undertaken on information-sharing and awareness raising; capacity-building; specific technical programmes and assistance; preparation of articles, publications and virtual documents, and networking/collaboration with concerned UN agencies and centres of expertise.
4. FAO organized or participated in a series of FFC events, bringing together stakeholders from different technical and institutional backgrounds:
5. Increasing attention is being given to urban food security and nutrition. Urban or peri-urban groups have been included in the studies on Vulnerable Livelihood Profiles (2000-2002) particularly on Guatemala, Vietnam and Nepal. A study on the impact of urban living on diets and nutritional status is presently under way.
6. Initiatives in the area of UPA include an international workshop on "Organic and Greenfood Production in Urban and Peri-urban Areas of South East Asian Countries"; an international workshop on UPA on the occasion of the International Horticulture Congress (Toronto, August 2002); a training workshop on UPA technologies for the Horticulture Research and Development Network in African Countries (RADHORT); and a socio-economic evaluation of small and medium size hydroponic enterprises in Santiago de Chile. Increasing attention is being given to the development of sustainable irrigation practices, including the safe use of waste water, as a pre-condition to the production of safe food.
7. An international workshop on "Trees outside Forests and Urban and Peri-urban Forestry" was organized in Rome in November 2001. FAO also participated in 2002 in the "European Workshop on Urban and City Greening" held in Greece. A strategic framework (2002-2007) on urban and peri-urban forestry has been developed to assist Member Nations in improving the environment and diversifying food production in urban areas. An awareness raising meeting on the ecological, social, cultural and economic roles of planted trees in ensuring food security for cities is being organized in Latin America.
8. An assessment of profitability and sustainability of peri-urban farming in selected urban and peri-urban sites is under way with a view to both enhance resource-use efficiency and reduce negative on-site (e.g. soil depletion) and negative external (e.g. pollution) impacts of relevant farming systems.
9. National workshops on "Food Supply and Distribution to Cities" focussing on policies and programmes to enhance urban food marketing and food security were organized in Rio de Janeiro (Brazil), Beirut (Lebanon), Damascus (Syria) and Amman (Jordan) in 2001 and in Addis Ababa (Ethiopia) and Manila (Philippines) in 2002. FAO participated in an inter-sectorial working group on urban food security in Harare, Zimbabwe (2001). A presentation on urban food security and food supply and distribution to Asian cities was made to the meeting on food security of the Asian Consumers Association held in July 2002. Monitoring of urban and peri-urban food security is part of Food Security Information and Early Warning Systems in Mauritania and Nicaragua. The Urban Food Marketing Plan for the city of Greater Amman has been completed. A project proposal for technical assistance to the Municipality of Lahore (Pakistan) to improve urban food security and food marketing has been prepared.
10. National workshops and/or projects on urban and peri-urban agriculture have been organized or developed in Bolivia, Botswana, Democratic Republic of Congo, Egypt, Côte d’Ivoire, Guinea and Namibia. Additional projects are in the pipeline for Bangladesh, Benin, Botswana, Cameroon and Mexico. Urban and peri-urban agriculture and forestry have become significant components of FAO’s emergency response, e.g. horticulture in Congo, poultry and dairy projects in Afghanistan, tree planting for food, energy production and income generation in Angola.
11. Technical materials and information tools have been developed to meet demand from a range of users. The document "Urban and Peri-Urban Agriculture: A Briefing Guide for the Successful Implementation of Urban and Peri-Urban Agriculture in Developing Countries and Countries in Transition" is available on the FAO Intranet to enable staff involved in the Special Programme for Food Security to assist interested countries in the implementation of the urban and peri-urban component. Pamphlets on urban and peri-urban agriculture, urban and peri-urban horticulture, micro-garden technology, integrated plant production and protection management (IPP) and IPP card system were prepared for use by executives of local authorities. A publication on "Livestock Keeping in Urban Areas: A Review of Traditional Technologies" based on literature and field experiences was published in 2001.
12. Publications related to urban food supply and marketing include the study of "Urban Food Marketing Systems (SADA)" and "A Guide on the Informal Food Marketing Sector: Municipal Policies to Support the Informal Food Sector". A distance learning CD on "Urban Food Supply Policies and Planning" was prepared in conjunction with the International Centre for Advanced Mediterranean Agronomic Studies in Montpellier. A CD on "Planning and Policies for Feeding Cities" was developed as an inter-active training and sensitisation tool for governments and municipalities.
13. A video on "Food for the Cities" highlighting the implications of rapid urban growth on food supply systems around the world was prepared in conjunction with RAI (Italian Television). This was followed by a second video on "Feeding Cities in the Horn of Africa". A video on micro-garden technologies for urban and peri-urban areas in Senegal is also available.
14. FAO’s website now includes a section on urban and peri-urban horticulture. On-line manuals on urban and peri-urban intensive production of vegetable crops through hydroponic systems can be downloaded from the website of the Regional Office for Latin America and the Caribbean (
15. An inter-disciplinary strategy on Food for Cities has been developed in the MTP 2004-092, with the following objectives and priorities in the near term:
16. Implementation of the strategy will require an increased involvement of technical units and expanded collaboration with relevant institutions at national, regional and global levels.
1 CL 119/17
2 CL 123/7