Urban agriculture is the practice of cultivating, processing, and distributing food in or around a village, town, or city.
The benefits that urban agriculture brings along to cities that implement this practice are numerous. The transformation of cities from only consumers of food to generators of agricultural products contributes to sustainability, improved health, and poverty alleviation.
•Urban agriculture assists to close the open loop system in urban areas characterized by the importation of food from rural zones and the exportation of waste to regions outside the city or town.
•Wastewater and organic solid waste can be transformed into resources for growing agriculture products: the former can be used for irrigation, the latter as fertilizer.
•Vacant urban areas can be used for agriculture production.
•Other natural resources can be conserved. The use of wastewater for irrigation improves water management and increases the availability of freshwater for drinking and household consumption.
•Urban agriculture can help to preserve bioregional ecologies from being transformed into cropland.
•Urban agriculture saves energy (e.g. energy consumed in transporting food from rural to urban areas).
•Local production of food also allows savings in transportation costs, storage, and in product loss, what results in food cost reduction.
•Urban agriculture improves the quality of the urban environment through greening and thus, a reduction in pollution.
•Urban agriculture also makes of the city a healthier place to live by improving the quality of the environment.
•Urban agriculture is a very efficient tool to fight against hunger and malnutrition since it facilitates the access to food by an impoverished sector of the urban population.
Poverty alleviation: It is known that a large part of the people involved in urban agriculture is the urban poor. In developing countries, the majority of urban agricultural production is for self-consumption, with surpluses being sold in the market. According to the FAO (Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations), urban poor consumers spend between 60 and 80 percent of their income on food, making them very vulnerable to higher food prices.
•Urban agriculture provides food and creates savings in household expenditure on consumables, thus increasing the amount of income allocated to other uses.
•Urban agriculture surpluses can be sold in local markets, generating more income for the urban poor.