In 2008, the world’s urban population exceeded the rural population. However, developing areas such as Asia and Africa are still catching up. Similarly, 30% of the Indian population live in cities, while 70% are still in rural areas. But as India grows and people flock to cities for better employment prospects and infrastructure, that balance is rapidly shifting. In anticipation of the outcome of this trend, there is a dire need for urban agriculture in India.
Food insecurity only increases as people shift to cities, and already India is facing problems trying to feed its growing population. The demand for food is increasing, while resources are being depleted and people are moving away from agrarian lifestyles. Urban agriculture is one of the answers to this problem; however it will take a conscious effort to bring about this change.
What is Urban Agriculture?
The Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO) gives the following definition of urban agriculture:
|“An industry that produces, processes, and markets food and fuel…”||Aquaponics is a method of growing crops and harvesting fish, both of which can be used to feed the grower and even sold/donated locally for profit.|
|“… in response to the daily demand of consumers within a town, city, or metropolis”||Aquaponics can produce up to 10 times the yield of tradition crops in order to feed an ever-growing population in urban areas.|
|“…on land and water dispersed throughout the urban and peri-urban area…”||Aquaponics systems take up 1/8th of the space of traditional farming, and can be installed anywhere, from a terrace to a backyard.|
|“…using and reusing natural resources and urban wastes…”||Aquaponics systems use 1/10th of the water, and this need can be met by harvesting rainwater.|
|“…to yield a diversity of crops and livestock…”||A variety of crops and fish species can be raised and harvested using an aquaponic system.|
Advantages of Aquaponics Systems in Urban Agriculture Settings
- Fast and easy access to fresh, nutritious produce for low-income families.
- Potential for income generation is there if the grower wishes.
- Produce would supply urban food markets, street food stalls, and food processing plants, boosting employment.
- Decrease reliance on poor road systems, long travel times for produce, and uncertainty regarding food supply.
- Lower the chances of produce rotting due to poor cold storage facilities.
In India, urban growing strategies, such as terrace farming in Mumbai, are gradually appearing. In Hyderabad, households that grow their own vegetables save 20% of their entire food expenses by consuming their own produce. Combined with the use of aquaponics systems, this could be a great solution for a national food crisis.
Urban agriculture in India is still in its early stages. Now is the time to take action in order to implement sustainable systems in our cities.