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URBAN AGRICULTURE: A NEW WAY TO FOSTER CHINESE URBAN SUSTAINABILITY

Studies estimate that over the next decade and a half, 350 million people, more than the entire population of the United States, will become urban residents in China.

While Chinese urbanization is set to continue at a swift pace, data show that one-fifth of China’s arable land is polluted and three-quarters of the surface water flowing through urban areas is unsuitable for drinking or fishing.

In this context, the government is trying to undertake stricter measures to achieve a more human-centreddevelopment in order to emphasize social inclusiveness and environmental improvements alongside rational economic growth, rather than being dominated by it.

Urban agricultureis the practice of incorporating farming into city areas through mixed land use and innovative techniques allowing cultivation to occur on much smaller area of land. This phenomenon has become popular in China as an instrument to foster urban sustainability and resilience by bringing food production closer to consumers and reducing its environmental foot-print. Additionally, urban agriculture has been welcomed as a way to encourage awareness of food safety in response to major health incidences and to promote environmental safeguard.

New technologies, as sensors linked to automatic irrigation systems, are playing a central role with the rise of urban agriculture. In this way, farmer cooperatives have new opportunities to coordinate with one another to buy stock, specialize their production and market their products.

In this framework, Beijing represents one of the early pioneers for integrating urban agriculture into its strategic development programs stressing the importance of urban agriculture to sustainable urban development. In the late 1990s, the government launched an official plan to encourage multi-function urban agriculture in peri-urban areas by supporting the development of “agro-parks”, in order to produce food and to attract tourism. Furthermore, in recent years Beijing has devoted significant resources to apply new technologies to the urban agriculture sector to strengthen efficiency and to rationally utilize scarce water and land.

 

The gLAWcal Team

Saturday, 28 June 2014

(Source: ChinaDialogue)