The FAO Media Centre reports that by 2025, more than half the developing world's population - an estimated 3.5 billion people - will be urban.
"For policy makers and urban planners in poor countries, greener cities could be the key to ensuring safe, nutritious food, sustainable livelihoods and healthier communities. The concept of "green cities" is usually associated with urban planning in the more developed world. But it has a special application, and significantly different social and economic dimensions, in low-income developing countries.
As cities grow, valuable agricultural land is lost to housing, industry and infrastructure, and production of fresh food is pushed further into rural areas. The cost of transport, packing and refrigeration, the poor state of rural roads, and heavy losses in transit add to the scarcity and cost of fruit and vegetables in urban markets.... By 2020, the proportion of the urban population living in poverty could reach 45 percent, or 1.4 billion people. By then, 85 percent of poor people in Latin America, and almost half of those in Africa and Asia, will be concentrated in towns and cities. "
These facts show the issues well:
- Rapidly expanding Accra eats up an estimated 2 600 hectares of farm land every year.
- More than half of Beijing's vegetable supply comes from the city's own market gardens.
- Horticulture in and around Hanoi produces more than 150 000 tonnes of fruit and vegetables a year.
- In Cuba, 60 percent of horticultural production takes place in urban areas and per capita intake of fruit and vegetables exceeds the FAO/WHO recommended minimum - a daily intake of 400 g of fruits and vegetables (excluding potatoes and other starchy tubers).
The FAO define the challenge as being able to steer urbanisation from its current, unsustainable path, towards greener cities that offer their inhabitants choice, opportunity and hope. One solution is urban and peri-urban horticulture. Follow the link to find out more.