Too much of a good thing

Urban agriculture is a much-needed supplement to family incomes and helps feed Africa’s urban poor, but its growing popularity is creating some problems. Suitable land is in such high demand that people are cultivating any open space they find, regardless of whether they own it or even have permission to use it.

“Instead of sticking to the designated places, urban farmers have even gone a step further to violate city by-laws by engaging in stream bank cultivation and even defacing recreational facilities such as soccer pitches.”

Soil loss, chemical pollution, and hydrology issues are a concern, and a more recent study points to urban farming as a source of malaria.

While North Americans are (rightly) touting the value and importance of urban agriculture, it’s a good thing to be reminded that what works in our culture and environment isn’t necessarily going to be the packaged solution that saves the entire world.