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Who Will Feed The Billions?

Updated: Feb 11

The ability to grow crops in small spaces and perishables closer to markets to reduce wastage is never as important.


Did you know that the world’s population is estimated to reach about 9.7 billion people by the year 2050 and it is forecast that nearly 80% of this population will live in urban and peri-urban areas? In sub-Saharan Africa alone, the urban growth rate is estimated at 3.6%, which almost doubles the world’s average.


This population boom will bring along an ever-increasing demand for nutritious food to feed the urban populace. So where are all these people going to live? Oh wait, food first! Who's gonna feed them?

This population boom will bring along an ever-increasing demand for nutritious food to feed the urban populace. So where are all these people going to live? And how are they going to feed? Would they have to rely on just rural agriculture or would they need to be inventive and grow at least some of their foods in urban spaces?

The ability to grow crops in small spaces and perishables closer to markets to reduce wastage is never as important. Despite the role of urban farming in food provision for urban markets and its positive effect on climate change, little attention has been paid to it in terms of advisory service delivery. This as a result,hampers its potential.

Rapid urbanization in Africa’s developing cities will be accompanied with problems of urban

poverty, malnutrition, unemployment, and high food prices further compounding food insecurity in urban areas. The effect of climate change has affected environmental conditions, loss of arable land through rising temperatures and erratic rainfall patterns which have induced decline in crop productivity. So to cut the story short, the solution lies in the ability of cities to create and sustain urban farms and for these farms to increase their productivity per unit area. This can be achieved by popularizing urban production practices that utilize minimal spaces like the ‘vertical farm in a bag’ concept, small-scale hydroponics and aquaponics, rooftop farming, reliable weather updates and smart access to markets.

Examining its advantages, urban agriculture plays important roles in job creation, family-level food security and increased household incomes, in addition to urban waste recycling and establishment of urban green-belts that will positively impact climate change. In addition, it also has the potential to raise interest in transforming urban food systems as integral parts of sustainable urban planning.

Over the last decade or so, urban agriculture has gained popularity particularly in Europe, Asia and some parts of Africa due to concerns about sustaining the ever growing urban populations. However, the idea and practice of urban agriculture is still relatively a novel one in many parts of Africa, as most African cities are yet to take up urban farming. Yet it would seem that the practice would be absolutely necessary for the continent to adopt soon. This is largely because rural agriculture in Africa is still more manual than mechanized and would hardly be able to support the ever increasing population, making food crises highly likely by 2050. From the look of things, if other means of food production and supply are not adopted such as urban farming, the continent will suffer untold disasters in terms of its inability to attain food sufficiency. The good news is that we can avert this situation by using our urban spaces to grow our foods- so folks! Let's get down and dirty in our backyards, on our balconies, rooftops and whatever spaces we could get our hands on to grow food. I bet you, nothing could be more satisfying than enjoying some fresh air coming from your home garden as you eat from your urban harvests!

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