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HomePractice of Urban Agriculture - Jammu Kashmir Latest News | Tourism

Practice of Urban Agriculture – Jammu Kashmir Latest News | Tourism





Dr. Parvani Rekhi
Urban agriculture is the practice of farming in urban and peri-urban areas and it connotes a wide range of food and non-food products that can be cultivated or grown. In connection to Indian cities, the focus is on the cultivation of vegetables, fruits, and flowers for human consumption. It is now part of a growing trend in cities globally to look towards locally produced food. At the global level, the Food and Agricultural Organization (FAO) believes urban and peri-urban agriculture has a role in food and nutritional security. The Urban Food Agenda is an FAO flagship initiative to enhance sustainable development, food security, and nutrition in urban and peri-urban areas. It encourages partnerships with different stakeholders such as civil society, academia, international agencies, city entities, and the private sector. In several countries, community organisations and individual city residents, facilitated by city administrations, have taken up small-scale agricultural activities on private and public lands. The “Draft Citizen’s Policy for Urban Agriculture in Delhi”, submitted to the Delhi government in September 2022, aims to provide a holistic framework for urban farming. It recommends building on existing practices, promoting residential and community farming through rooftop and kitchen gardens, allocating vacant land for agricultural use, creating a market, developing policies for animal rearing and spreading awareness.
Advantages of Urban agriculture:
Despite the limitations, urban agriculture is worth promoting for several reasons. Firstly, even if the food is grown in a small fraction of the total output in the country, a little more of it is welcome, since even this small fraction is bound to provide sustenance to a large number of people. The small-scale decentralised production can also be done to supplement diets at household or community level and furthermore, it had local employment value and labour-intensive, it can add to the number of jobs and improve livelihood opportunities in the cities and generate some income, especially for the poor. Secondly, urban agriculture has a significant role in urban environmental management as it can combat urban heat island effects and function as an urban lung in addition to providing visual appeal. Additionally, it brings purposeful recreation that has direct impact on city health.
Thirdly, urban agriculture helps city-dwellers to establish linkages with nature and educate them in its richness and diversity. Urban thinkers who have been worried about the disconnect of urbanites with nature and have been looking at ways by which that interrelationship could be re-established. Urban agriculture provides a fine opportunity for such engagement and eco-cultural learning. It also helps to develop community bonds and a sense of sharing through community agriculture where people come together and share their stories about their experiences in growing a variety of food.
Lastly, since cities are struggling with waste management and disposal, urban agriculture can provide some help to deal with it. The use of suitably treated waste water for urban agriculture can reduce demand for fresh water and help in waste water disposal. Moreover, organic waste from the city can be composted and used in food and flower production that can reduce the total quantum of waste and its dumping on land, thereby, reducing the requirement of landfills. It is one of the most advisable forms of waste recycling for cities of the future.
Role of Urban Local Bodies in promoting Urban Agriculture
Urban local bodies can pro-actively assist activity in three ways. First, they can make some of the unutilised public lands that are not likely to be brought under development in the near future should be available for urban agriculture. These can be leased to private parties through an agreement with mutually beneficial terms and conditions. Indian cities have preferred open spaces to carry ornamental vegetation. However, to promote urban agriculture, public spaces can partly have edible landscapes. Furthermore, the civic bodies could use zone lands for urban agriculture in their development/master plans for a period during which they are not likely to be pressed into service for other purposes.
The ULBs can provide technology extension services through soil and water testing laboratories. Additionally, ULBs could provide standards for use of terraces, balconies, open spaces within private/cooperative housing society compounds for urban agricultural use. In heavily populated cities, where availability of land is a constraint, a different approach may be needed to overcome the scarcity of urban space for urban agriculture including developing technologies for vertical farming. In this background, a vital addition to municipal functions should be used for urban agriculture. Similarly, urban planning would require to include urban agriculture as a planning item in its land use plan and the future beckons that urban agriculture does not merely remain a marginal esoteric interest but a critical urban function.
(The author is Lecturer GCW Parade)

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