Commercial Agriculture in Urban Areas

As the lung spaces in urban centres reduce, an increasing number of city dwellers are opting for urban farming. The concept of farming in cities has taken a new shape. Today people are trying to utilise the smallest of available spaces to plant trees and edible crops for their utilities. In addition to traditional spaces like terraces, parking lots, vacant plots and even road dividers city dwellers have eagerly adopted to the concept of vertical gardens, hydroponics as well as hygroponic plants.

Tapping on the sentiment, many community organisations have sprouted up across the globe in developed as well as developing countries who target farming in urban areas for sustainable growth, food security, self reliance and climate change mitigation efforts. Organisations like Camp Green (Kampala, Uganda) provide an active space for young people to learn the fundamentals of urban agriculture and how to develop their own urban farms with limited space available at hand. Started in 2012, they have reached over 10,000 city residents, teaching them how to compost waste, grow their own produce, raise their own chickens, and eat nutritiously. The organisation is making monumental impact in promoting food security to the country.

Similarly the City Farm Project in Bangkok, Thailand came up in 2014 as Thailand’s first NGO to promote and practice urban farming. The farm, which is about 650 square meters, produces pesticide-free produce for urban residents and provides workshops to people interested in urban farming. The workshops cover the principles of urban farming and organic food and provide experiential training on composting and recycling. The efforts made by City Farm Project and its supporters have led to evolution of local agriculture policy.

Closer home many Indians have also started to take up urban farming as a full time occupation, rather than just being a hobby. Hamsa V and Nithin Sagi broke away from their lucrative IT jobs with Infosys to pursue their dreams. The two partners opened Growing Greens in 2012 that sells microgreens, edible flowers, salad leaves, sprouts and herbs to five-star hotels, high-end restaurants and cafes in Bengaluru.

Multiple companies and startups have seen the light of the day in the urban agriculture space. Companies like Urban Fate Farms or UGF have scaled up their operations in multiple cities like Mumbai, Bengaluru and USA, with expansion plans in cities like Dubai.

Primarily proving that urban agriculture is not just lucrative to nature enthusiasts but it is also attracting business minds to ensure profitability in the activity. It not only reduces the cost of production, improved last mile connectivity, higher rates of return on investment but all in all seems a good side gig to ensure steady income in periods of long economic haul.

These are a positive sign in the concept of city farming. It is a sustainable solution to urban health and food problems. Many urban dwellers have started farming in the little spaces whatever is available in and around their dwellings and these urban farmers have become torch bearers to food sustainability and eco friendly businesses.

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Shreyanshi Dubey

Shreyanshi Dubey

Political Economist and strategist— specialising in International Public Policy, Globalisation, and Sustainability.