The RSIS Centre for Non-Traditional Security (NTS) Studies' Blog

Seeking Opportunity 2: Recognition in Demand

Posted in Food Security by NTSblog on October 22, 2010

My previous blog-post was about an opportunity to harness the potential of urban agriculture in dealing with food insecurity. Urban agriculture advocates that growing food locally helps city dwellers to become self-sufficient in some food products. It is apparently not the only solution to achieve food security in urban areas. Hence, it tends to be overlooked especially by the policymakers and city planners.

Source: FAO

In a policy brief released last August, the Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO) suggests that “policymakers should seize the opportunity of urban agriculture”. This gives impetus to both policymakers and urban planners to take into account urban agriculture in planning urban development; government should provide sufficient policy actions to create enabling environment for urban agriculture. Moreover, through Food for the Cities initiative, FAO promotes collaboration between governments, civil society, non-governmental organisations and private sectors to support urban food production.

Vietnam is considered to have the highest figure of 70 per cent of urban households that earn income from agricultural activities in Asia. A study examining urban agriculture in Hanoi approves the importance of recognition of urban agriculture in future city planning. The Paris-based CIRAD or the Agricultural Research Centre for International Development also highlights the role of public institutions and private stakeholders involved as one of the lessons learnt of a project aiming to examine the existing urban agriculture in several cities in Cambodia, Lao PDR and Vietnam. Its 2006 Annual Report asserts that “the agricultural sector needs to be more professional and to look more closely at the requirements of urban inhabitant”.

Asia has always been regarded as the world’s richest food source but it is also home for world’s poor and hunger population as it is estimated 62 per cent world’s hunger live in Asia and the Pacific. In attempt to fight hunger in Asia, several organizations have recently joined forces. These include Asia Society/IRRI task force and ADB/FAO/IFAD partnership. Then, there is the first APEC Ministerial Meeting on food security which was recently convened in Japan. Although there is momentum towards urban agriculture, it would seem to be disregarded in many food security discourses as the current discourse still revolves around increasing rural agricultural production. Expanding the urban agriculture movement in Asia, RUAF Foundation, an international network of seven regional resource centers and one global resource centre on Urban Agriculture and Food Security, works in collaboration with CIGAR, the Consultative Group on International Agricultural Research, on an initiative entitled Resources Centers on Urban Agriculture and Food Security – South & South East Asia. This initiative should in fact inspire both policymakers and city planners in Asia to begin harnessing the potential of urban agriculture as one strategy towards which food security can be assured for its inhabitants.


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