Global Forum on Food Security and Nutrition (FSN Forum)

Contributing to food security in urban areas: differences between urban agriculture and peri-urban agriculture in the Global North

Food security is becoming an increasingly relevant topic in the Global North, especially in urban areas. Because such areas do not always have good access to nutritionally adequate food, the question of how to supply them is an urgent priority in order to maintain a healthy population. Urban and peri-urban agriculture, as sources of local fresh food, could play an important role. Whereas some scholars do not differentiate between peri-urban and urban agriculture, seeing them as a single entity, our hypothesis is that they are distinct, and that this has important consequences for food security and other issues. This has knock-on effects for food system planning and has not yet been appropriately analysed. The objectives of this study are to provide a systematic understanding of urban and peri-urban agriculture in the Global North, showing their similarities and differences, and to analyse their impact on urban food security. To this end, an extensive literature review was conducted, resulting in the identification and comparison of their spatial, ecological and socio-economic characteristics. The findings are discussed in terms of their impact on food security in relation to the four levels of the food system: food production, processing, distribution and consumption. The results show that urban and peri-urban agriculture in the Global North indeed differ in most of their characteristics and consequently also in their ability to meet the food needs of urban inhabitants. While urban agriculture still meets food needs mainly at the household level, peri-urban agriculture can provide larger quantities and has broader distribution pathways, giving it a separate status in terms of food security. Nevertheless, both possess (unused) potential, making them valuable for urban food planning, and both face similar threats regarding urbanisation pressures, necessitating adequate planning measures.

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