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Urban Farming

Urban Farming (UF) has the potential to increase food security and reduce urban poverty.
Urban agriculture can be defined as the growing of plants and the raising of animals within
and around cities and towns. It includes a variety of production systems, ranging from
subsistence production and processing at household level to fully commercialized
agriculture (Veenhuizen, 2006). Thereby, urban farming helps to transform cities from
being only consumers of food and other agricultural goods into relevant producers (Smit
and Nasr, 1992). It is estimated that at least 15% of the global food output is produced in
cities (Pauli, 2012).
Apart from fostering food security, UF reduces the energy demand along the food supply
chain, e.g. by reducing the transport distances between producers and consumers of
food. Short transport distances furthermore reduce food losses: In developing countries,
10 to 30 per cent or more of post-harvest losses are caused by long transport distances,
poorly maintained trucks, lack in cold storage etc. (FAO, 2005).
Urban farming technologies and techniques. Among the techniques used in urban
farming are aeroponics, aquaponics, hydroponics, fertigation, rooftop, and vertical
farming. Aeroponics is a modern technique for growing plants in air without the use of
soil. Aquaponics or also known as “pisciponics”, involves a special technique.
Aquaponic's technique is a sustainable food production system that combines
conventional aquaculture (raising aquatic animals such as fish, crayfish or prawns in
tanks) with hydroponics (cultivating plants in water) in a symbiotic environment.
Hydroponics and fertigation have almost the same method that aims to ensure that the
nutrients can be supplied directly to the roots of the plants and prevent root disease.
Rooftop approach becomes one of the most popular techniques for quick and simple
farming. In this technique, an abandoned empty roof space can be used to grow suitable
crops such as tomatoes and chillies. On top of that, the vertical farming technique is
categorized as very efficient as compared to conventional cultivation techniques due to
crops grown vertically and more crop production using limited land space (Muhammad
and Rabu, 2015).
Aquaponics. Food production within city boundaries or peripheries, regardless of size,
is known as urban agriculture (UA) (CATE, 2012). UA is regarded as one way to achieve
greater urban food security, as well as to help reconnect people with their food systems
(Landscape Urban Plan, 2013).One such form of emerging UA to be considered for
commercial expansion is aquaponics. Aquaponics combines two widely known
technologies, recirculating aquaculture and hydroponics. It is defined as “a bio-integrated
system that links recirculating aquaculture with hydroponic vegetable, flower or herb
production” (Lennard, 2009). Aquaponics is often endorsed as a sustainable food system
that is easily adapted to urban sites (Bernstein, 2013).
Aquaponics is the union of hydroponics (growing plants without soil) and aquaculture
(farming fish or other aquatic organisms) for a fast, efficient method of producing both
plant and fish crops. Fish waste from the aquaculture portion of the system, is broken
down by bacteria into dissolved nutrients (e.g., nitrogen and phosphorus compounds) that
plants utilize to grow in a hydroponic unit. This nutrient removal not only improves water
quality for the fish but also decreases overall water consumption by limiting the amount
released as effluent. Aquaponics shares many of the advantages that hydroponics has
over conventional crop production methods including: reduced land area requirements,
reduced water consumption, accelerated plant growth rates, and year-round production
in controlled environments.
Urban and Peri-Urban Agriculture and Climate Change Adaptation. Climate change
is predicted to cause more environmental stressors in the future, while food production
needs to be intensified. The required transition will require an increased flexibility of the
urban environment, more sustainable use and re-use of natural resources as well as the
adaptation of new infrastructure systems (Schuetze & Thomas, 2011). In order to assure
human health and wellbeing, the resilience of our food supply systems to cope with future
hazards has to be strengthened. To build a nexus between water, energy and food we
will need cooperation between different sectors, e.g. sanitation, drinking water supply,
urban design, architecture, agriculture, and provisioning of energy.
Urban and Peri-urban Agriculture (UPA) is increasingly recognized as an important
strategy for climate change adaptation and mitigation, to a lesser extent. The World
Meteorological Organization (WMO) has suggested that urban and indoor farming are
necessary responses to ongoing climate change and as ways to build more resilient cities
(WMO, 2007). The Asian Cities Climate Change Resilience Network (ACCCRN) order to
develop adequate strategies and action plans for city-level adaptation to climate change,
has included urban and peri-urban agriculture as an important strategy to building resilient
cities or those able to respond to, resist and recover from changing climate conditions
(Rio, 2009). UPA helps cities to become more resilient by reducing the vulnerability of
most vulnerable urban groups and strengthening community-based adaptive
management; maintaining green open spaces and enhancing vegetation cover in the city
with important adaptive (and some mitigation) benefits; safely reusing wastewater and
composted organic waste; and reducing their energy use and greenhouse gas emissions
by producing fresh food close to the city (Dubbeling and Zeeuw, 2014).
However, urban agriculture, if not properly managed, may also have some negative
impacts on the urban environment. Soil erosion and pollution of ground water may occur,
if chemical fertilizers and pesticides are used over an extended period. Ecological farming
practices are highly recommended in urban and peri-urban agriculture to prevent such
negative effects city (Dubbeling and Zeeuw, 2014).