The rise of urban agriculture as a component of development policy has been noted above. This is associated with poverty alleviation projects and has drawn in all key international development agents although few are at present clear as to how urban agriculture can be turned into a viable development programme. In Tanzania, GTZ has supported the Dar es Salaam Urban Vegetable Promotion Project for many years and has collaborated with other donors to host conferences and publicise urban agriculture (see Bakker et al., 2000). In its attempt to find a role for urban agriculture, the FAO has recently supported a number of expert group semi­nars in Southern Africa. In collaboration with the Municipal Development Programme, FAO Southern Africa has invested resources into a study of the linkages between land tenure and urban agriculture in Malawi, Kenya, Tanzania and Uganda. Probably the most significant actor is the IDRC that has sup­ported research since the 1970s. This research has been done in collaboration with local partners that included university scientists, local NGOs such as ENDA Zimbabwe, and more recently a combination of different institutions. With the Harare based Municipal Development Programme for East and Southern Africa, IDRC has launched a new initiative on the political economy of urban agriculture in the region. It also supports and works in collaboration with the Consultative Group on International Agricul­ture Research (CGIAR) and the Nairobi based International Potato Centre (CIP) to co-ordinate research on urban agriculture in Africa.

In every country there is a range of local groups working with urban agriculture practitioners. With the increased attention from international donors, local institutions compete for expected donor resources and time is invested in preparation of project plans to suit frameworks of the donors. On the research front, although there is increased activity, the bulk of the output is for the consumption of the donors and not for publication in traditional international journals. The incentives for the latter on the part of local researchers are diminishing.


This chapter reviewed the research record on urban and peri-urban agriculture in East and Southern

Africa whose prevalence has increased with increasing levels of economic hardship in every country. In the early years, it was driven by environ­mental concerns but more recently, economic and food security concerns predominate. Urban agricul­ture is mainly a subsistence activity as ordinary res­idents use urban space to produce food under harsh economic conditions. This has raised com­plex and unresolved issues of legitimacy, land access, tenure and planning.

Therefore, there is a need to understand and elevate development debate on the concept of urban and peri-urban agriculture; on the nature of peri-urban land conflicts and within this to identify innovative pol­icy intervention that benefits local communities and the poor in terms of food security, nutrition and jobs. Clearly, the urban agriculture focus in Africa at the moment does not have an urban ecology, design and regeneration focus like that found in Europe.

There is also a need to understand the nature of current urban development policies with a view to locate where and where not UPA could be inte­grated into urban development (both spatial and economic). This should include the structures that may be required to facilitate integration as well as capacity building in local authorities, training and research centres, NGOs and communities. Some of the integration challenges were explored in the Urban Agriculture Magazine (notably Volume 4, July 2001).

As noted since the early 1980s, the subject of poverty in Africa has ‘pulverised research capacity’ in general and that for urban policy and manage­ment is no exception. Thus, continuous attention needs to be paid to research and training needs so as to support and lead interventions for sustainable urban development. Our research network PeriNET seeks to address some of these problems (see http://www. pidces. sbu. ac. uk/BE/UES/perinet/).


Bakker, N., Dubbeling, M., Gundel, S. and Sabel-Koschella, U., de Zeeuw, H. (eds.) (2000). Growing Cities, Growing Food: Urban Agriculture on the Policy Agenda. DESE/ZEL, Sida, CTA, GTZ, ACPA, BMZ, ETC.

Brook, R. and Davilla, J. (2000). The Peri-Urban Interface: A tale of two cities. School of Agricultural and Forest Sciences, University of Wales and Development Planning Unit, University College London.

Freeman, D. B. (1991). A City of Farmers: Informal Urban Agriculture in the Open Spaces of Nairobi, Kenya. McGill University Press: Montreal and Kingston.

Grossman, D., Van den Berg, L. and Ajaegpu, H. (eds.) (1999). Urban and Peri-Urban Agriculture in Africa. Ashgate: Aldershot.

Mbiba, B. (1994) Institutional Responses to Uncontrolled Urban Cultivation in Harare: Prohibitive or Accommodative? Environment and Urbanisation, 6, 188-202.

Mbiba, B. (1995). Urban Agriculture in Zimbabwe: Implications for Urban Management and Poverty. Avebury: Aldershot.

Mbiba, B. (2001).The Political Economy of Urban and Peri­Urban Agriculture in East and Southern Africa: Overview and Research Settings. Paper presented at a Regional Workshop Organised by the Municipal Development Programme (East and Southern Africa), Bronte Hotel, Harare, 27th February-3rd March 2001.

Mbiba, B. and Huchuzermeyer, M. (2002). Contentious development: peri-urban studies in sub-Saharan Africa. Progress in Development Studies, 2 (2), 113-131.

Municipal Development Programme (2001). The Political Economy of Urban and Peri-Urban Agriculture in Eastern and Southern Africa. Proceedings of the MDP/IDRC work­shop, Bronte Hotel, Harare, 28th February-2 March 2001.

Obudho, R. A. and Foeken, W. J.(1999). Urban Agriculture in Africa: A Bibliographical Survey. Research Report 58/1999: Leiden African Studies Centre and Nairobi Centre for Urban Studies.

Rogerson, C. M. (2001). Urban Agriculture: Defining the Southern African Policy Debate. Paper Presented at an FAO Sub-regional Conference on ‘Simple Technologies for Crop Diversification by Small Scale Farmers in Urban and Peri-Urban Areas of Southern Africa’, Stellenbosch University, South Africa, January 15-18.

Smith, D. W. and Tevera, D. S. (1997). Socio-Economic Context for the Householder of Urban Agriculture in Harare, Zimbabwe. Geographical Journal of Zimbabwe, 28, 25-28.

Urban Agriculture Magazine at www. ruaf. org


DfID = Department for International Development, United Kingdom

FAO = Food and Agricultural Organisation, United Nations

GTZ = German Development Agency

IDRC = International Development Research Centre, Ottawa, Canada

ILO = International Labour Organisation

MDP = Municipal Development Programme

RUAF = Resource Centre for Urban Agriculture and Forestry, ETC The Netherlands

UNDP = United Nations Development Programme


Updated: October 16, 2015 — 7:40 am