Urban agriculture is a relatively young field of research and policy makers and urban agriculture practitioners are requesting more research data on the health, social, economic and ecological impacts of urban agriculture as a basis for policy decisions and project design and management. A strong need exists for well integrated multidisciplinary studies on urban agriculture on household, community and city level, applying participatory and gender sensitive methods that also give attention to measuring the less tangible effects of urban agriculture (e.g. effects on community development, living climate, landscape, climate change, etcetera). Linking research and monitoring more directly to policy making, action planning and implementation is another strong need.
Although the head offices of most agricultural research and extension organisations are located in the cities, urban agriculture is often not a priority on the research agenda and urban producers access to technical advice and training services is often rather limited and its content and focus often are not well adapted to the conditions in the urban environment. A major challenge for the coming years is to prepare training and extension services (be it governmental, municipal, university services, NGOs or private sector) better for providing relevant advice to urban farmers, for example related to ecologically friendly production, processing and marketing techniques that can be applied in space-confined areas or related to safe use of urban resources such as organic wastes and waste water and multi-functional land use (e.g. combining urban agriculture with recreation, landscape management, water storage). Also successful rural extension and training methodologies (e.g. the farmer to farmer approach, farmer field schools, participatory technology development) need to be adapted to the urban conditions.
For an extensive introduction and review of literature on this subject please go to State of the Art. This paper discusses participatory agricultural research and extension and its relevancy for the urban setting. A sustainable urban livelihoods framework is discussed, which enables to better understand and define the multi-sectoral, institutional and policy aspects of urban agriculture in order to identify appropriate interventions. Specific participatory methods are discussed for urban horticulture and livestock research and extension to help urban producers adapt agriculture to urban realities. A number of key issues in urban agriculture research and innovation are briefly discussed.
Go to RUAF publications for an overview of RUAF publications on this topic (most of which are available online). You may also view the articles in the Urban Agriculture Magazine on this topic or search the Bibliographic Database for other literature references, abstracts and online documents on this subject.
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