Urban agriculture out of control

At a time when urban agriculture is being advocated in North American cities as a path to sustainable living, it’s good to be reminded of the dangers of automatically applying our solutions worldwide with a broad brush dipped in Western values. We can not stand in judgement or hope to be of any assistance to others without a deep understanding and respect for the unique challenges other countries and societies face:

Zimbabwe: Urban Farming Threatens Harare Water Sources:

“Takawira Mubvami, a scientific programme co-ordinator with Municipal Development Programme (MDP) said ….urban agriculture (is) being practised ‘willy-nilly’ causing environmental degradation and pollution. ‘It
is difficult to stop because of urban poverty but as an organisation we are advocating for sustainable urban agriculture policies,’ said Mubvami.

A study by the Environmental and Development Studies (ENDA-Zimbabwe) three years ago also noted that urban agriculture posed a serious threat to the urban environment.

‘All sites (visited areas) had unacceptable levels of erosion. In addition, almost 90 percent of Harare’s farmers use chemical fertilisers and nearly a third of ‘off-plot’ cultivation takes place near streams, swamps – leading to water pollution through runoff and leaching,’ said the study.”

Don’t get me wrong — I’m a strong advocate of *sustainable* urban agriculture. It’s just good to be reminded of the importance of humility in seeking solutions to a better world.

More on urban agriculture:

RUAF: Resource Centre on Urban Agriculture and Forestry

City Farmer: Canada’s Office of Urban Agriculture

Cities Feeding People Program

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