Urban Farming

Main Feature / 1st Quarter 2020

Urban Farming

by Alakesh Dutta

Urban farming is the cultivation of plants and fish, and the raising of livestock within and around cities. It commands a significant level of commerce, which makes it much more than just homesteading or subsistence farming.

Urban farming is embedded into various parts of an urban ecosystem with which it is constantly interacting. It consumes scarce urban resources like water and energy; it engages urban residents as labourers and consumers; it becomes part of urban networks of storage and distribution; it impacts urban ecology and most significantly, it competes for land with several other components of urban infrastructure.


The increasing attention that urban farming has been gaining in cities stems from the extreme stress that they are experiencing to provide safe and adequate amount of food to all strata of society. By this year, the developing countries of Africa, Asia and Latin America will be home to 75 per cent of all urban dwellers.

The challenge to provide equitable access to food is not just limited to these developing countries. For example, 80 per cent of the population in California are urban residents. The cities in the San Francisco Bay Area alone import 2.5 to 3 million tonnes of food daily over an average distance of 500 to 1,000 miles.

But this food fails to reach one out of every eight people in the region who live under the poverty line.


1. Urban agriculture: what and why? RUAF Foundation. [Online] https://www.ruaf.org/urban-agriculture-what-and-why. 

2. Altieri, Miguel. How Urban Agriculture Can Improve Food Security. Civil Eats. [Online] February 14, 2019. https://civileats.com/2019/02/14/how-urban-agriculture-can-improve-food-security/. 

3. Liew, Maegan. 30 by 30: Boosting food security in land-scarce Singapore. ASEAN Today. [Online] March 22, 2019. https://www.aseantoday.com/2019/03/30-by-30-boosting-food-security-in-land-scarce-singapore/. 

4. What’s the environmental impact of agriculture? DW. [Online] https://www.dw.com/en/whats-the-environmental-impact-of-agriculture/av-50284684. 

5. Punjab, India. Columbia Water Centre, Earth Institute, Columbia University. [Online] https://water.columbia.edu/research-themes/water-food-energy-nexus/water-agriculture-livelihood-security-in-india/punjab-india/. 

6. Agriculture causes 80% of tropical deforestation. Mongabay. [Online] September 27, 2012. https://news.mongabay.com/2012/09/agriculture-causes-80-of-tropical-deforestation/. 

7. 5 Main Impacts of Agriculture on Environment. Economics Discussion. [Online] https://www.economicsdiscussion.net/india/agriculture-india/5-main-impacts-of-agriculture-on-environment/21654. 

8. Crawford, Amy. Big Data Suggests Big Potential for Urban Farming. Citylab. [Online] February 15, 2018. https://www.citylab.com/environment/2018/02/big-data-suggests-big-potential-for-urban-farming/552770/. 

9. Ngumbi, Esther. Growing Urban Agriculture. Stanford Social Innovation Review. [Online] October 23, 2017. https://ssir.org/articles/entry/growing_urban_agriculture. 

10. Royte, Elizabeth. Urban farms now produce 1/5 of the world’s food. GreenBiz. [Online] May 5, 2015. https://www.greenbiz.com/article/urban-farms-now-produce-15-worlds-food. 

11. Singapore – Agricultural land (% of land area). Index Mundi. [Online] https://www.indexmundi.com/facts/singapore/indicator/AG.LND.AGRI.ZS. 

12. Eng, Kenny. Commentary: Can farming be a success story for Singapore? Channel News Asia. [Online] March 19, 2017. https://www.channelnewsasia.com/news/singapore/commentary-can-farming-be-a-success-story-for-singapore-8577514. 

13. Elangovan, Navene. Singapore needs to lift farm production, cut waste, as global protein shortage looms: Study. Today Online. [Online] August 27, 2019. https://www.todayonline.com/singapore/singapore-needs-boost-farm-production-reduce-waste-global-protein-shortage-looms-study. 

14. The Singaporean Farmer Using Vertical Ponds to Boost Food Security. Temasek. [Online] October 31, 2019. https://www.temasek.com.sg/en/news-and-views/stories/sustainability/generational-investing/TheSingaporeanFarmerUsingVerticalFarming. 

15. Kriwangko, Lisayani. Sustenir sows the seeds of success. The Business Times. [Online] July 31, 2018. https://www.businesstimes.com.sg/hub-projects/leaders-of-transformation/sustenir-sows-the-seeds-of-success. 

16. Integrated Food Security Support Service, Policy and Programme Development Support Division, Technical Cooperation Department, Food and Agricultural Organization of the United Nations. The Place of Urban and Peri-Urban Agriculture (UPA) in National Food Security Programmes. 2011. 978-92-5106845-8. 

17. Isabel Malsang. In France and beyond, the race is on to make urban agriculture viable. The Local. [Online] February 24, 2019. https://www.thelocal.fr/20190224/in-france-and-beyond-the-race-is-on-to-make-urban-agriculture-viable. 

18. Hutt, Rosamund. The hottest new craze for German millennials? Gardening. World Economic Forum. [Online] September 02, 2019. https://www.weforum.org/agenda/2019/09/millennials-gardening-mentalhealth-plants/. 

19. Roser, Max. Employment in Agriculture. Our Wold in Data, University of Oxford. [Online] https://ourworldindata.org/employment-in-agriculture. 

20. Plants and Policies: How Urban Farming is Transforming Cities. AU Online, Aurora University. [Online] September 19, 2019. https://online.aurora.edu/plants-policies-urban-farming/. 

21. What is Urban Farming? Greens Grow. [Online] https://www.greensgrow.org/urban-farm/what-is-urban-farming/. 

To read the complete article, get your hardcopy at our online shop/newsstands/major bookstores; subscribe to FuturArc or download the FuturArc App to read the issues for free!