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Foro Global sobre Seguridad Alimentaria y Nutrición • Foro FSN

Re: Call for experiences and effective policy approaches in addressing food security and nutrition in the context of changing rural-urban dynamics

Nicolas Cartiaux
Nicolas CartiauxUniversité de LiègeBelgium

Nicolas Cartiaux (Université de Liège - Gembloux Agro-Bio Tech)
Giampiero Mazzocchi (La Sapienza University - Rome)
Davide Marino (UniMol - Molise University)

Based on
- Cartiaux, N (2017) Urban agriculture as productive green infrastructure for regenerating urban landscape: youth innovation in Rome (Master’s thesis), Gembloux Agro-Bio Tech Press

We have also on article based on this approach which is in the making (Improving urban metabolism through agriculture: an approach to ecosystem services qualitative assessment in Rome.) 

Main responsible entity
Municipality of Rome
Lazio Region

From 2014 and further on

Funding source
Municipality of Rome
Lazio Region
For further on, European funds for farmers support

Municipality of Rome, Italy

In the municipality of Rome the relationship between the city and its surrounding countryside is given by the presence of large green areas characterized by significant historical and environmental values that coexist with a massive extensive urbanization. In several cases farming activities play an essential role for the preservation of those green areas. The decree “Terre Vive” (living lands) -Article 66 of Dl 1/2012 - adopted in 2014 has allowed 5510 hectares of land for agricultural use to be sold or leased to new farmers of less than 40 years of age in all Italy (Ministero delle politiche agricole, alimentari e forestali, 2014). The same year and following this decree two programs have been launched in Rome, one directly from the Municipality “Roma, città da Coltivare: terre pubbliche ai giovani e agli agricoltori” (Rome cultivating the city: public lands for the young and the farmers)” and the other from the Lazio Region “Terre ai giovani” (Lands for youth), which also includes lands inside the borders of the municipality. Those special programs allow young farmers to benefit from arable lands and historical farms within the city borders.

Those agricultural projects are directly addressed to young farmers by loaning them city lands in order to help them to start multifunctional farming in order to protect and regenerate the Roman campaign i.e. Ager Romanus. By providing a wide range of services and activities such as agri-tourism and recreational activities, those new managerial approaches may consequently contribute to stop the countryside’s abandonment and to reduce youth unemployment, a major social issue. They represent an investment of different administrations into an innovative way of cultivating, investing in offset neighborhood and regenerating abandoned lands.

Key characteristics of the experience/process
The understanding of the program’s tenants lies behind the city’s socio-economical context, policy measures and agriculture’s particular importance (youth unemployment, land compensation policies of the city). All these factors led to a societal activism asking for the access to farming lands held by the administration. Diverses agricultural cooperatives of Rome funded the CRAT (Coordinazione Romana per l’Accesso alla Terra) (Roman Coordination for Access to Land) in order to express their suggestions and advices in the campaign for public space. They also organized several demonstrations and occupations, which led to the results of the decree “Terre Vive”.

Key actors involved and their role
The administrations play the role of the projects manager since they have a report to furnish every year. The farmers play their role but are also involved in a teaching and communication role of their practices. The last one concerns all the experts and researchers, who follow those projects either as advisers or as observant.

Key changes observed with regards to food security and nutrition and sustainable agriculture and food systems
The farms are involved into local selling activities of their products through a regular realization of events, local selling points, dominical sales and the participation to some food and agricultural local events.

At the moment the food production is constituted by a very common range of vegetables and transformed products issue of a strict controlled organic production. They also share the wish to reintroduce diversity amongst the aliments produced with the use of old species.

In those suburban contexts, where the majority of these farms are located, are composed of local communities which are usually used to buy low- cost industrial food because they cannot afford the organic one. The production of local food available at a very competitive price allows them to benefit from products of high quality

Challenges faced
The state of abandonment and deterioration of the land areas belonging to previous management of non-agricultural activities has seriously slowed down the starts of the activities. Moreover, the farms cannot guarantee, at the moment, complete accessibility to public attendance, except for extraordinary events, due to the lack of essential services. Financial opposition represents probably the most problematic factor since the credit access has been often denied due to very restrictive regulations that do not favor young farmers with entrepreneurial objective at all. Finally, the division of the farms within protected areas and natural parks involves several problems regarding the funding through the Rural Development Plan which cannot be applied to any intervention performed in the public green areas.

Despite all the problems concerning the states of the farms and decelerating the realization of the activities planned, none of the initiative have been suppressed, demonstrating the possibility of overcoming these structural difficulties.

Lessons/Key messages
This program aims to the use of public lands for the development of multifunctional farms located at strategic points within the green grid of the municipality like in close proximity to regional and municipal parks where they play both the role of a park entrance and green connector. Looking at the bigger picture of this initiative it goes well beyond the perspective of multifunctional farms by bringing a solution against urban sprawl problems and valuable landscape services. This plan plays the role as a first experience for state investment directly aimed at the development multifunctional urban farms as well as to youth employment and the participation to the food system and could definitely be seen as a model for further development of similar initiatives.