The From Farm to Table project, facilitating sustainable urban farming systems around the world, targets key constraints to urban agriculture. The result is a set of strategies for making urban agriculture a bigger part of the national agenda, nutrition solutions, and urban economies. Among the key barriers are recognition and protection by governments, lack of market knowledge, lack of information access, and pollution.
"The FSTT project facilitates the development of sustainable urban farming systems and works in 21 partner cities around the world. The program attempts to address key constraints to urban agriculture such as a low degree of support services, poor organization among urban farmers, and low productivity and profitability, despite high market demand and increasing market prices.
FSTT program recognized that urban farming has specific needs and challenges that require specific technologies and organization. Lack of recognition by the government makes urban farmers vulnerable to eviction threats, poor access to water and bargaining power when selling their produce. These challenges need a multi-°©‐stakeholder approach with the authorities; merely building capacity with farmers alone would not be adequate.
FSTT’s components include identifying products with high market potential, identifying areas in the product market chain that can be improved and organizing a project that can enhance the innovation and entrepreneurial capacity of producers and their organization...An important component of the program was advocacy. In states like Maharashtra and Kerala, which are mostly urban and peri-urban, promotion of urban agriculture is already included in state policies. In other states, advocacy is needed to make it part of policy as more and more areas within the states transform from rural to peri-urban areas. Access to information is another huge constraint for urban farmers and the Dhan Foundation would help farmers in this area as well. The second component of sustainability is the inroads the project team has made with government support...exposure to a national program will also help urban farmers better define their work.
More and more dweller-cum-farmers are giving up agricultural land in urban areas for other uses with higher market value. FSTT hopes to make urban farming lucrative to stakeholders with the long-term aim of maintaining adequate land under agriculture. Covered farming is an innovation the FSTT is encouraging in urban areas where pollution cannot be controlled. Another is vertical farming, where space is limited."
Solving these challenges may help create solutions for food security and food inflation, and in the long-term, can mitigate against the food impacts of climate change. Focusing on the role women play is also an important goal.
"Food security issues and inflation need immediate attention and multi-°©‐pronged solutions. Urban agriculture initiatives such as the FSTT are one way that food prices can be controlled and nutrition insecurity can be addressed. The FSTT project also worked to understand the coping strategies and responses to climate change of vulnerable groups engaging in urban agriculture. Another impact area that Dr. Amerasinghe seeks to achieve through FSTT and its advocacy is the recognition of female urban farmers as a niche by the government. This will empower them and create support infrastructure to suit their special circumstances."
Intellecap April 2011pgs. 1 - 3