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Urban agroforestry can address nutrition in growing cities

Avocado fruit tree

Avocado fruit tree

According to the United Nations Populations Fund, the world is experiencing the largest wave of urban growth in recorded history. And as the population of cities swells to five billion by 2030 as projected by the UN agency, food and nutritional security is emerging as one of the biggest challenges in urban areas.

At the forthcoming World Congress on Agroforestry2014, Eefke Mollee and co-researchers from Bangor University will discuss agroforestry in Kampala city, and how a focus on farming fruit trees in peri-urban and urban areas can help tackle major issues such as urban poverty and malnutrition.

In their study, the scientists say poor urban households often maintain close links with their previous rural (agricultural- and forestry-based) backgrounds. This means that forests and agroforestry systems in and around cities can provide urban areas with traditional forest products, providing employment and food security.

According to UN drylands ambassador Dennis Garitty, the demand for high value tree products in cities can also promote the expansion of agroforestry in urban areas.

“The growth of cities around the world has increased the market demand for fruit, timber and a host of other tree products, a force that is slowly transforming areas around cities into agroforests,” said Garrity in a recorded interview.
Mollee and co-researchers say urban forests and forestry systems are largely ignored in forestry debates, and little research has been done on their contribution to household nutrition.

“It is a missed opportunity, since the cultivation of nutrient-rich fruit trees could form important opportunities for growing urban populations,” they say in their Congress abstract titled ‘Linking urban agroforestry and nutrition: a case study from Kampala, Uganda.’

“With the limited space available in peri-urban and urban areas, fruit trees epitomize the concept of ‘vertical production,” they add.
Further reading:
See http://www.worldagroforestry.org/africa-food for links and more stories

By Isaiah Esipisu

Edited by D. Ouya

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