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Urban Agriculture
Myths & Reality

Myth 1: Urban agriculture means kitchen gardening.

Household and community gardening are an important and a very easy individual based contribution towards farming.

But urban agriculture is not limited to the individual houses.It goes beyond that and looks at the food system that feeds millions that live in the city.

p78.jpg (10388 bytes)Myth 2: Urban agriculture is a marginal activity or means of survival.

Urban agriculture means good access to food for the poorest, a source of income and good food for the stable poor, savings, nutritious and safe food for the middle class and profits for entrepreneurs. For the poorest, it cuts expenses on fuel and foods that are by far the maximum income spent areas by this group. Also urban agriculture is central to the city’s economy and generates incomes and jobs within the city.

Myth 3: Urban agriculture grabs land that could have been given higher price value as rent. It is a bad investment.

Urban agriculture usually utilises land that is either lying idle or unsuitable for other purposes. Or, it uses land that is allocated for other uses, thus giving back higher values. Most cities have many unused spaces in the city that can be made green spaces. In Delhi, vast tracts of land are devoted to lawns. These can be used for urban agriculture. Lawns are aesthetic, but have no productive value, consume enormous amounts of water and are mainly for the rich. This passion for lawns has its origins in British colonial tradition.

Myth 4: Urban agriculture competes with and is less efficient than rural farming.

The truth is that urban agriculture thrives on products that are less suited for rural farming and that might be too costly for the urban poor. Mushroom and broccoli are two such examples.

Myth 5: Urban agriculture is unhygienic.

Health problems are undoubtedly the most serious consequence of inappropriately practiced urban farming. Pesticides, fertilisers and untreated sewage can pollute the urban environment. Farming along the roadsides, where crops are susceptible to automobile exhaust, can lead to food contamination. However, appropriate urban agriculture is not harmful, but has the potential to improve hygiene in the city because it uses polluting waste as a production input.

Myth 6: Urban agriculture causes pollution and damages the environment.

Urban farming can cause pollution of the soil, water and air and affect urban areas adversely. The solution is to provide guidance and assistance to make it a safer industry for farmers, consumers and the environment.

Myth 7: Urban agriculture is unsightly and aesthetically inappropriate in the city.

Urban agriculture creates green spaces in the city, replacing vacant or unproductive spaces within the city into green and productive spaces, while at the same time providing livelihood to the urban poor. If the fields in the rural villages are considered beautiful, why are plots of vegetables considered an eyesore?

Myth 8: Urban agriculture is an archaic, utopian concept and cannot be created today.

In the past, western thought nurtured the concept of garden cities or farming in the city. Of late, "modernity" is equated to concrete cities. "Urban" is associated with "industrial" and "rural" with "agricultural". This paradigm shapes the world of today. That is why urban agriculture has been omitted from urban planning requirements. Farming has been positioned as an outdated and backward activity, not fit for the modern city by planners.

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