Urban Agriculture: Urban Planning and the Ahmedabad Experience
Ganapathy, R. S.
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Cities all over the world are growing rapidly and the manifestations of the urban crisis in a variety of areas, viz., environment food, health, energy, land use, are quite evident. Urban landuse pattern are changing dramatically due to the pressure of population and the role of agriculture in supplying food, fuel, forage and forest products has declined considerably. The urban Poor’s access to food has become worse and they have to ply higher prices for food and fuel wood, while their incomes are growing more slowly. The food subsidies and public distribution systems for essential commodities defuse and contain the crisis in the short term but do not address the need of the poor in the long term. This paper looks at the experience of Ahmedabad, an Indian city and the historical transition of the urban food system and develops alternative for urban planning that focus on urban agriculture. The current urban development programme systematically ignores the basic needs of the urban poor and their social ecology. They largely concentrate on creating physical structures (roads, housing, water supply, sewage disposal etc.) involving now investment, benefiting some areas and some groups. The possibilities of utilizing existing urban physical resource (land, water, idle production capacity, wastes) and social resources (state, market, household and collective nonmarket community institutions) more effectively to produce and distribute the basic needs of food and energy, are very promising. Urban agriculture can increase food self-reliance and security in cities, be environmentally sustainable and increase the democratic control of the urban poor in meeting their basic needs. There is very little understanding of this issue among decision makers, professionals and citizens. Historical experience and current practice in Indian cities (and elsewhere in Asia) show that it is possible for them to product as high as 60 percent of their basic food needs. There are several social, political and economic constraints, however is promoting urban agriculture. This paper will discuss the planning issues involved in urban agriculture in India; review the specific case studies and experiments in Ahmedabad, based on an ongoing study, and generate public policy option for urban agriculture.
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