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Foro Global sobre Seguridad Alimentaria y Nutrición • Foro FSN

Re: Street food and urban and periurban agriculture and horticulture: perspectives for a strategic coalition towards food security

Ochieng' Willis
Ochieng' WillisUniversity of NairobiKenya

Street food and urban farming is not something new in the world.It began long time ago in places like Machu Picchu in Peru back in the days when water could be reused as a form of new architecture to grow vegetables. During world wars I and  II, urban farming began in places like US,CANADA and UK -Victoria gardens emerged which were used to produce vegetables and fruits thus ensuring food security for the soldiers.

As the world population increases, food security becomes an issue.the world rate of urbanizing is high and it is estimated that by 2050,60 percent of the world will be urbanized. The importance of urban agriculture is threefold: it provides food, its a source of employment and a source of income to the urban poor households(Mittlin, 2005).Urban agriculture is good since it can promote women empowerment as it goes along well with other household chores done by women which can sometimes denay them the oppotunity of a formal  job.For example, as they water vegetables on the backyard, they cook for the family. Urban agriculture should be promoted and encouraged through proper policy enactment.

In Kenya for example, urban and peri-urban agriculture is doing well in places like kiambu which was initially agricultural land but due to rapid urbanization, it has already been engulfed by the ever expanding Nairobi city. Farmers here, have devised several means of remaining food secure through urban agriculture by constructing storey buildings for keeping say pigs, chicken and dairy goat/cow on different floors. They again live some little part of the garden for fodder and home gardening purposes. This not only ensure food to the household but also income from the sale of produce.

However, urban farming comes with it threats and challenges. The example of  a storey building in Kenya for animals faces a threat of outbreak of zoonitic diseases.Respective governments therefore needs to ensure that good policies are enacted to regulate urban agriculture. for example, the government should make it mandatory that from specific time period say 5pm, certain streets in the city should be opened for food street vendors to sell their produce. strict food policies should be enacted to regulate urban farming and certain standards have to be set to avoid issues of food poisoning from polluted foodstuffs.

Governments need to protect its citizen from issues of food poisoning from the urban agriculture. sometimes the source of water used  for irrigation in urban areas, is not safe for human consumption. for example, in kenya, urban farming has improved the living standards of some youths in shanties like kawangware slums by growing indigenous vegetables along the Nairobi river.the water from this river is polluted from industrial wastes and so  these vegetables can be harmful to human health by containing heavy metals. the issue is not improved standard of living, but the impact of this activity on the social welfare of the larger population.

In conclusion, urban farming is good though good and strict policies need to be enacted to regulate the sector to avoid food poisoning and other diseases that can emanate from this activity. if properly regulated, it can be a vehicle towards food security and poverty alleviation for  most of the urban poor.