GOVERNMENT is supportive of efforts by urban dwellers to engage in urban agriculture as a way to supplement their income and ensure household food security.
The Food and Agriculture Organization defines urban and peri urban agriculture as the growing of plants and the raising of animals within and around cities.
Urban and peri -urban agriculture has been on the rise in the country over the years owing to rural-urban migration.
Unfortunately those who have made the great trek to the city have not found employment readily available forcing many families to engage in farming to supplement their incomes.
FAO notes that urban farmers in most cases operate without permits. Since it is officially “invisible”, the sector receives no public assistance or oversight in many cities.
However, Minister of Local Government and Public Works July Moyo, said urban dwellers can engage in urban agriculture as long as the area is not designated as wetlands.
“In the planning of all urban areas, a lot of them encompass areas that are arable before they are built up for either industrial, commercial and residential accommodation.
It is the policy of Government to encourage families who are within those urban areas; even though an area has been designated as part of the master plan, as long as the master plan implementation has not reached the areas which are agricultural very viable, we encourage citizens to cultivate and to use this as supplement to their own income.
This, as Zimbabweans we have practiced it over many years and we continue to do so. However, a lot of people end up going to wetlands and these are areas that are reserved for our waterways.
We do not encourage people to start cultivating along stream banks because that has an effect of producing sand that ends up filling in the dams.
While we encourage urban agriculture, we do not want that urban agriculture to end up being done on wetlands and on stream banks but only on areas that we think is not injurious to the ecosystem of the urban land”.
Studies have shown that produce from urban farming is affordable because it does not require transportation and refrigeration and consumers – especially low-income residents – enjoy easier access to fresh produce, greater choice and better prices.
Urban agriculture provides employment and incomes for poor women and other disadvantaged groups.
For instance Horticulture can generate one job every 100 sq m garden in production, input supply, marketing and value-addition from producer to consumer.