Ending world hunger has long been a debated issue. While people have put forward many solutions in the past, there are still millions of hungry people across the world. What is even more concerning, is that this is expected to become an even more severe problem as the world’s population continues to grow.
So, what can be done to curb the issue? One proposed solution to help stop world hunger is urban agriculture. Some believe that city farms are the key to ensuring that humankind has enough to eat. We take a closer look at how urban agriculture could help to feed the many undernourished people currently living in cities.
In the last 200 years, the world’s population has increased sevenfold, and there are no signs of it stopping. Current trends in urbanization suggest that at the present rate, cities will eventually become a place where an insupportable number of people live, and where many will be forced to live below the poverty line. Overcrowding puts pressure on housing and sanitation systems, while food and water also become more scarce. The number of people living in slum condition is estimated to be 863 million, compared to 650 million in 1990.
World hunger is already an issue, and with only limited resources available on this earth, a growing population is a serious problem. While food banks attempt to provide immediate relief to the hungry, can we really expect food banks and the world’s current agricultural industries to be able to meet these growing demands?
In order to increase food production to meet a growing population’s needs, it needs to be sustainable and not cause irreparable damage to the environment, that which would just cause more severe problems in the future. For the world to avoid an epic food crisis, something needs to change.
How Urban Agriculture Can Help
It’s important that we can provide a solution that does not just rely on increased import of produce. Urban agriculture is that solution. It provides food to undernourished, city-based populations, in a cheaper and more efficient manner. It does so by utilizing urban areas to grow food, which cuts down on transport, in turn helping to reduce global pollution. When you grow your food locally, you can provide fresh, healthy food to consumers without the high energy costs associated with transport, processing, and packaging.
Being able to produce food within impoverished slum communities offers significant benefits. Urban agriculture integrates into the urban ecological and economic system. Urban residents provide labor and consumers, while local resources allow for the growing of plants; such as using wastewater for irrigation and organic waste for compost.
These methods mean that the urban population becomes less dependent on aid and less vulnerable to fluctuating food prices. Furthermore, small-scale city farms can provide new employment and entrepreneurial opportunities for the poor. Not only does this enable poverty alleviation, but also social inclusion for women who would otherwise not have the opportunity. Besides agricultural production, other economic activities include delivery services and marketing activities.
Sustainability is, of course, an issue, so it’s important for the practice to be eco-friendly and green. Instead of wasting drinkable water, it should focus on water sustainability and use an independent water supply. Methods to combat wastefulness include rainwater collection, water recycling, and drip irrigation.
Agricultural projects include the use of empty lots as farmlands, rooftop greenhouses and gardens, and above-ground planting beds. Residents can also use abandoned warehouses and tall buildings for vertical farms. Rooftop greenhouses can offer much higher yields than outdoor farms, making them more productive, as well as eco-friendlier. In part, this is thanks to advancements in technology. You now have LED lights that are 150% more efficient than previous models. This increased efficiency significantly reduces the amount of energy required to grow crops.
Urban agriculture has the potential to provide much-needed food for some of the world’s poorest city dwellers. By 2050, it could provide residents with as much as 50% of the food they consume. This method has a significant impact on the urban economic and ecological system. It will also allow farmlands to regain most of their ecological functions. It’s not only a much more efficient alternative but also a much greener one.