- 03 Feb 2023
- 6 min read
Prelims: Urban Farming, Healthy Food, Environmental Sustainability, Economic Development, Biotechnology, Scientific Innovations & Discoveries.
Mains: Urban Farming, related Challenges and its Potential.
Why in News?
Recently, a Non-Profit Research Organisation has prepared a “Draft Citizen’s Policy for Urban Agriculture in Delhi”, recommending a holistic framework for Urban Farming.
- The Draft recommends building on existing practices, promoting residential and community farming through rooftop and kitchen gardens, allocating vacant land for agricultural use, creating a market, developing policies for animal rearing and spreading awareness.
What is Urban Farming?
- Urban farming refers to the practice of growing crops, raising livestock, or producing other forms of food within urban areas.
- Despite its potential benefits, such as increased access to fresh and healthy food, environmental sustainability, and economic development, urban farming faces several challenges that limit its widespread adoption and impact.
- Limited Land Availability:
- One of the biggest challenges facing urban farming is the limited availability of suitable land within urban areas.
- Urban land is often expensive and highly coveted for other uses, making it difficult for farmers to secure the space they need to grow food.
- Soil Contamination:
- Urban soils are often contaminated with heavy metals, pollutants, and other toxic substances, making it difficult to grow crops in a safe and sustainable manner.
- Water Availability:
- In many urban areas, water is a scarce resource, and farmers often struggle to access enough water to meet the needs of their crops and livestock.
- Lack of Infrastructure:
- Urban farming often requires specialized infrastructure, such as greenhouses, irrigation systems, and cooling and storage facilities, which can be expensive and difficult to access in urban areas.
- Limited Land Availability:
How can the Related Challenges be Addressed?
- Developing Partnerships:
- Urban farming can benefit from partnerships with local governments and other organizations that can provide support and resources to help overcome some of the challenges.
- Further research into urban agriculture can help to address some of the key challenges and provide new insights into the best practices for growing food in urban areas.
- Encouraging Community Engagement:
- Community engagement is critical for the success of urban farming, as it can help to build support, bring together resources, and promote sustainability.
- Urban Agriculture Policies:
- Governments and other organizations can play a role in promoting urban agriculture by enacting policies that support the growth and development of urban farming initiatives.
What are Some Related Initiatives in India?
- In 2008, Pune’s civic administration launched a city farming project to train and encourage people to take up farming on allocated land.
- In 2012 Teh Kerala government launched a vegetable development programme to encourage gardening in houses, schools, government and private institutions.
- It also offered subsidies and support for eco-friendly inputs, irrigation, compost and biogas plants.
- In 2014, the Tamil Nadu government introduced a “do-it-yourself” kit for city dwellers to grow vegetables on rooftops, houses and apartment buildings under its Urban Horticulture Development Scheme.
- Since 2021, Bihar has encouraged terrace gardening in five smart cities through subsidy for input cost.
- To promote urban farming, governments must recognise informal practices and link them with agricultural schemes.
- There is a need to make urban agriculture viable. Farming in cramped urban spaces marred by water scarcity and pollution is not easy.
- A 2016 paper titled Future of Urban Agriculture in India by the Hyderabad-based Institute for Resource Analysis and Policy mentions that in Delhi, Hyderabad, Ahmedabad and Chennai, wastewater is directly or indirectly used for urban farming.
- Studies show that excessive use of chemical fertilizers and pesticides in urban farms can lower produce and soil quality. However, urban farmers believe such hurdles can be overcome with innovative techniques.
- Urban farming has the potential to play a major role in addressing some of the biggest challenges facing cities today, including food insecurity, environmental sustainability, and economic development. However, to truly realize its potential, it is essential to overcome the challenges and create an environment that supports and nurtures urban farming initiatives.
UPSC Civil Services Examination, Previous Year Question (PYQ)
Q. How far is Integrated Farming System (IFS) helpful in sustaining agricultural production? (2019)
Q. What is Integrated Farming System? How is it helpful to small and marginal farmers in India? (2022)