Poverty alleviation and enhancing food security through promotion of urban agriculture in Zimbabwe
Keywords:Urban Agriculture; Nutrition; Food Security; Zimbabwe
AbstractZimbabwe is becoming increasingly urbanized, and with this accelerating process comes a host of socio-economic challenges. Rapid urbanization process has resulted in increase urban food insecurity and malnutrition, especially on the side of tandem increase in urban poverty. Urban poverty and food shortage are taking root in Zimbabwe, as a result increased food production and access becomes critical to achieving major nutritional improvement and addressing food insecurity. In the face of urban food shortages, the present paradigm of rural food production cannot meet the challenges of the new millennium. It is hardly surprising that increasing umbers of urbanites are looking to grow their own food, if only to supplement their family food needs. Food is one of the basic needs and urban agriculture, both legal and illegal, has grown as a consequence of the difficult economic climate. Many urban households lack adequate amounts of foods that are rich in the nutrients needed for health and a productive life. It is against this background of increasing urban poverty that this discussion puts forward some suggestions for promoting urban agriculture. Urban agriculture has diverse economic, social and ecological functions and can be valued as one of the agricultural sectors having enormous potential to contribute to food security in Zimbabwe. In this discussion the role of urban agriculture in improving nutrition and food security is highlighted. Urban areas are becoming more 'modern' in their patterns of consumption than in their patterns of production, and there is a danger that the urban poor will become more and more marginalized while, at the other extreme, a small increasingly wealthy elite develops. The demand for food due to increased urbanization is predicted to grow faster than production resulting in a growing food deficit and insecurity in urban areas. Strategies which foster gender equality in urban food production will impact positively on food production, which may translate into expanded food production base to meet the needs of the growing urban dwellers, who are failing to make ends meet. This means participation of women in urban agriculture on the understanding that they are custodians of food production in many urban communities is recommended. However, challenges associated with urban agriculture need to be addressed to avoid land degradation and pollution in urban areas. Therefore, urban agriculture should be considered as a normal component of agriculture system and urban development, which has the capacity to improve nutrition and food security, as it lends itself to the majority of the urban poor. Greater and more sustained food production from urban agriculture will increase the potential access of the urban household to an adequate diet. It is envisaged that urban agriculture will be the new approach to satisfying urban food demands, however best provided incentives to urban farmers are credited by formulating policy fair to urban food producers. In the face of this bleak situation, major efforts are required to promote urban agriculture in addressing the nutritional needs and the perpetual food insecurity challenges in urban areas of Zimbabwe. On the other hand, given the economic, social and ecological advantages of urban farming it is arguably deserves even greater attention than before.
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