Urban agriculture is known to increase access to nutritious food. Because it is especially important for economically disadvantaged people in cities, due to its role in providing crops at reasonable prices for this segment due to the reduction of barriers between sources of production and sources of distribution.
Urban farming in many African cities is one of the main ways in which fresh corps are supplied to local markets.
For example, in Dakar, Kinshasa and Accra, almost all the leafy vegetables that you can buy are grown in the city itself.
Contrary to the Cairo model, in which the food supply chains are full of many barriers and obstacles that play a negative role in supplying the population with healthy food at an affordable price.
How Does Urban Agriculture Play Role in Promoting Social Solidarity?
While urban farming in Cape Town in South Africa does not play an important role in the city’s overall nutritious system,
6000 urban farmers grow their own food and sell the surplus in Cape Town, as they find it an indispensable part of their livelihood.
For these farmers, growing their own food helps them diversify their family’s diet, and selling the surplus provides additional income.
But according to the study by David Oliver and Lindy Henken based on a survey of 59 farmers on urban farms in Cape Town, it shows that you don’t have to farm on a large scale to reap significant benefits.
It has been found that even having a small rooftop food garden puts you in touch with neighbours, NGOs and local government,
which in turn creates a wealth of spin-offs. Building social networks is one of the greatest benefits of urban agriculture in poor areas.
As a legacy of apartheid-era apartheid, the Cape Flats area of Cape Town has high unemployment rates,
limited access to amenities and high crime. In such an environment, fear and mistrust limit positive social interactions,
while economic hardship limits access to adequate healthy food.
In this context, the real value of urban agriculture lies not only in generating income for the marginalized and the economically disadvantaged,
but also in the expansion of social networks. These networks help farmers count on emotional and practical support in difficult times.
Is It All About Income?
Most studies have focused on the economics of urban agriculture. Only two case studies conducted in Cape Town and Nairobi indicated that the benefits of urban agriculture were much more than just crops and food.
By asking more qualitative questions, these studies revealed something amazing.
The urban farmers did not try to maximize their profits, but were in fact forming strong social networks by working together to plant gardens.
The farmers interviewed increasingly emphasized that urban farming creates valuable social networks.
Oliver and Heineken’s findings show that social networking occurs on three levels. and this is:
1- Make friends with neighbors.
2- Expanding networks of acquaintance with other farmers.
3- Improving access to influential contacts in government, civil society and the market.
This means that urban farmers don’t just develop friendships they can count on during tough times.
But they are also developing broader networks with other farmers and with NGOs, government and local markets that allow them to build a career.
These findings show that by focusing on income generation alone, much of the current research has underestimated the ability of urban agriculture to build sustainable livelihoods in poorer areas.
The findings demonstrate that even on a small scale, urban agriculture contributes to building social networks that provide much-needed practical and emotional support.
Based on the findings in the research, it can be argued that it is essential for development practitioners and civil society to understand urban agriculture in a way that includes social outcomes,
rather than focusing disproportionately on output or profit margins.
The social and economic environment in which farmers operate is filled with a number of challenges. To the extent that urban agriculture can address some of these problems, without the support of NGOs, it is not possible to build a clear future for this nascent agriculture in the Middle East in general, and in Cairo in particular.
That is why we at Schadow realize our role as the first and only resource in Egypt to build sustainable communities.