The role of urban agriculture in food security and healthy nutrition is probably the most important asset. Production of food in cities is in many cases a response of the urban poor to inadequate, unreliable and irregular access to food, and the lack of purchasing power. Urban agriculture, to a large extent, complements rural agriculture and increases the efficiency of the national food system in that it provides products that rural agriculture cannot supply easily. For instance perishable products that require rapid delivery upon harvest can be produced in cities where facilities are readily available.
Environmental Urban agriculture has helped a lot in maintaining the environment that has been depleted so much. This can happen in several ways. For instance farmers use waste water for irrigational purposes in their farms. However farmers need to be trained in self protection during handling of the waste water, proper crop selection and adequate irrigation methods, among many other things. Farming in urban areas means rehabilitating the already depleted lands in the urban areas.
By doing this, the farmers are able to help save the environment that has been wasted by pollution (DeWalt, 1985). 4. Case study, Washington D. C Urban agriculture was part of an historical welfare system during the 18th and 19th centuries in Washington D. C. Urban residents had access to areas of urban agriculture land that was distributed to meet the needs of urban inhabitants and all the people who lived in Washington D. C. Individuals who lived in and around the city had adequate land to practice urban agriculture (Ross, 2007).
The history of urban agriculture in Washington was mainly meant to help reduce the number of poverty cases in the city (Ross, 2003). The growth and development of allowance gardens in Washington during the 20th century was in similar ways objectively aiming at supporting urban working class families and individuals. The problem today aims in the same direction, where growth and development of urban agriculture in Washington, more especially in low income areas, relates to problems of food quality, social welfare and public health.
Nevertheless, urban agriculture in Washington today is made up of an increasing urban demand for organic local food production, particularly among the urban middle societies. Historically in Washington, a small number of upper class urban residents had access to very large areas of land (Ross, 2000). This group was not producing for self-support in first hand, but had the requirements of selling part of their locally produced harvest, as food was difficult to transport. Urban agriculture in Washington has thus had many functions of social welfare and commercial activity.
Interesting historical lessons and comparisons can be made as we discuss the function and role of urban agriculture in Washington today (Ross, 1978). 5. Challenges and implementation Urban agriculture has faced a lot of challenges despite its many positive impacts. The use of waste water for irrigation without careful treatment and monitoring can result in the spread of diseases among the population. This has been a challenge to the urban agriculture and it has reduced the attitude of the urban residents towards the food products from urban farmers.
Cultivation of food crops on contaminated land can cause health hazards for the consumers (Bell, 1998). This has led to decrease in demand of the urban agricultural products and it is the whole concept that lacks the benefits that it deserves. The cultivation of food crops and the rearing of animals along road sides facilitate the distribution of products to local markets. However, this poses some health risks since it exposes foods to a number of pollutants such as car emissions. It is evident that urbanization and agriculture are very incompatible.
There has been stiff competition for the urban agriculture, for labor and resources, and it is unfortunate most individuals prefer to work in an industry or firms than to work in farms. This has led to poor labor as a factor of production and what results is the poor output in the food production. The practice of urban agriculture has been criticized by those who believe in industrial food production. The critics argue that food can be produced at larger volumes and perfect quality in a more efficient and sustainable way.
This criticism has led to many people lacking trust in the urban agricultural products (Bell, 1998). The only mean of implementing the methods of urban agriculture will be through educating the public about the importance of embracing the culture. Addressing issues on genetic applications in food production will be important in acceptance of the novel technologies by the public. The companies applying advanced technologies in agriculture should not hide anything from the farmers (Clark, 1999).Water treatments systems should be improved to ensure that water used for agricultural food production is safe for human health.
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