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BLOG POST: Is city the new farm?

Blog post   •   May 27, 2016 15:59 GMT

BLOG POST: Is the city the new farm? By breaking down the facts on our food systems, connections of city-food become more and more obvious. This is the first of a serie of three blog posts introducing innovative urban agriculture. I'm Sepehr Mousavi, Sustainability Strategist at Plantagon. Welcome to follow me in this forum!

Climate change and the population growth hand in hand with the global urbanization trends, water scarcity and other shrinking resources are setting our long-term food security on the verge of a big failure. A disastrous situation which has been recognized by the United Nations as a main global issue since 1948, bolded on world food summit back in 1996, defined as the UN's first millennium development goal (MDG1) and now as our second sustainable development goal (SDG2) formulated as ending hunger and achieving food security via sustainable agriculture, to be addressed by 2030.

Today, our agricultural systems are ineffective, unsustainably-ran and resource-inefficient, our food value-chain is not optimally designed and wasteful and as a result, the way that the planet is fed is associated with huge risks, setting it all on a highly slippery slope!

Looking at food security as a today and future challenge, optimization of current system by improving our agronomic practices, use of innovative solutions and smart technologies, optimization of our value-chain and changing our consumption patterns all sound indispensably necessary; but there has been also an alternative that likes of Plantagon recognized and promoted as a piece of the whole puzzle for feeding the planet: Industrial and innovative Urban Agriculture in a symbiotic manner.

Why Urban Agriculture?

By breaking down the facts on our food systems, connections of city-food become more and more obvious. The cities since 2007, and as the balance of human settlement broke in favor of urban areas compared to rural areas, has been the biggest hubs for the globe’s population, hosting almost 60% of the world’s population today (a number that is estimated by UN to be 80% by 2050), and responsible for 75% of the global greenhouse gas emissions.

Cities in which one third of the carbon footprint is food-related and produce nothing comparable to their demanded food supply, monsters with open mouths waiting to be fed with the same mentioned inefficient value-chain. Cities in which we find many waste-flows that could be transformed as resources for food production in controlled, safe and resource-efficient systems while at the same time lowering the city’s ecological footprint.

We need to build more sustainable and resilient food systems and urban agriculture is a concept that restores our common knowledge of a cyclic system of life and its necessities. We should not distance ourselves from the resources we need or the waste we produce, as at city level there are too many uncontrolled flows of boundless resources. Most importantly food easily fits in sustainable city planning concept, as it does not have to replace any other sector or component. Cities already have density and necessary infrastructure to support productive food systems.

By harnessing surplus of energy, waste water, spoilage heat, nutrition from organic waste etc. we could establish regenerative food systems that fit into concept of smart cities. If food is grown in such urban agricultural systems with use of best available techniques, risks for both plants and consumers will be minimized. Urban Agriculture will result in less food spoilage since locally produced crops can be sold and consumed relatively quickly after harvesting.

City authorities and civil society organizations increasingly recognize urban agriculture for its capacity to strengthen the resilience of the urban areas, enhance access to nutritious food, generate employment and income opportunities, help the city adapt to climate change and reduce its ecological footprint and create local circular economies.

This was the first of a serie of three articles introducing innovative urban agriculture, discussing how to regulate and promote the industry of agriculture by help of standardization and finally suggest a way to make sure of certification of safe food for the end consumers of such systems. Stay tuned please!

Sepehr Mousavi

Sustainability Strategist, Plantagon

Chair to Swedish Standards Institute ‘Sustainable Urban Food Production’ committee

The ideas and thoughts presented in this blog are my personal views and need not subscribe entirely to Plantagon.

Please watch out for up-coming blog post by:

  • Joakim Rytterborn, Research & Development Manager, Plantagon
  • Shrikant Ramakrishnan, Global Business Development Director, Plantagon

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