English (en) | Change Language
Published: 1996-10-19

THE URBAN AGRICULTURE NETWORK has been active since 1993, and now has 3000 members in 40 (primarily developing) countries. Network staff wrote the book reviewed below. They have an information and technical referral service on UA, assist networking among groups who work in adjacent countries, sponsor regional workshops and newsletters, advise on UA policy, and support research of people doing graduate degrees related to UA. They have an extensive library in Washington, D.C., which network members may use during a visit. Contact Jac Smit (President) at 1711 Lamont St., N.W., Washington, D.C. 20010, USA; phone 202/483-8130; fax 202/986-6732; e-mail 72144.3446@compuserve.com; they are developing a web page.

URBAN AGRICULTURE: FOOD, JOBS AND SUSTAINABLE CITIES (300 pp., from the Urban Agriculture Network and the United Nations Development Programme) examines factors which influence urban food production systems (including animals) worldwide. This is the most comprehensive resource we have seen on the topic. One of the authors set out to promote urban agriculture, but soon realized that documenting existing activities would be a major task in itself. The book is researched thoroughly, includes many case studies and pictures, and gives helpful perspectives on the current status and potential of food and income production in the city. Topics include: history of urban agriculture (UA), different classes of urban farmers, spaces used for UA, organizations which influence UA, benefits, problems, constraints, and promoting urban agriculture through policy. The book presents a convincing case for urban food production.

Here are a few of the insights excerpted from the book to give you an idea for the variety of its content. As an operational rule of thumb, "urban" is distinguished here as the agricultural product that gets to city markets or consumers the same day it is harvested. By the year 2000, 57% of the poor in developing countries will live in urban areas, up from about 33% in 1988. As many as 80% of the families in some smaller Asian and Siberian cities are engaged in agriculture. Hong Kong, the densest large city in the world, may produce within its boundaries two thirds of the poultry and close to half of the vegetables eaten by its citizens. Singapore is fully self-reliant in meat production. Recent migrants to the city have a difficult time putting together the resources necessary to grow and market their produce; they need time to adapt rural technologies to their new urban environment. The book is available from the UA Network above or UNDP, Urban Development Unit, DC1- 2080, One United Nations Plaza, New York, NY 10017, USA; fax 212/906-6471.

CITIES FEEDING PEOPLE: AN EXAMINATION OF URBAN AGRICULTURE IN EAST AFRICA (146 pp.) argues the case that urban food production should have a larger role in providing food for city dwellers. The book, published by IDRC in Canada, documents the extensive role of urban agriculture already practiced in East Africa, with detailed case studies from Tanzania, Uganda, Kenya, and Ethiopia. This study is insightful for people seeking to understand and promote food production in the cities. The book costs US$14.95 plus shipping from UNIPUB, 4611-F Assembly Drive, Lanham, MD 20706, USA; phone 800/274-4888 or 301/459-7666; fax 800/865-3450; e-mail query@kraus.com.