Dar es Salaam is the major economic, commercial and administrative centre of Tanzania and additionally plays a strategic role for the entire East African Region due to its access to the Indian Ocean. Accordingly, Dar es Salaam exerts enormous attraction and meanwhile became one of the fastest growing cities in the world, at a rate of 5.6% (NBS & OCGS 2013). Municipal and national planning authorities lack the capacity to keep pace with the rapid growth and consequently about 80% of the 5 million inhabitants in the city live in unplanned settlements (UN-Habitat 2010). Moreover, opportunities of formal employment are insufficient and the livelihoods of many dwellers rely on the informal sector.
Against this background, UPA plays a crucial role in Dar es Salaam, since it provides income to otherwise unemployed and disadvantaged urban dwellers. Furthermore, UPA considerably contributes to the supply of food products to Dar es Salaam, including vegetables and milk (Halloran & Magid 2013). There are two different forms of UPA in Dar es Salaam: home gardening commonly practiced by mid to high income classes in their privately owned backyards and open-space farming mainly practiced by small-holder farmers who commonly depend on these activities for their livelihoods (Mlozi et al. 2014). Within urban areas, open-space farming is restricted to public land where the construction of buildings is prohibited or not possible. Due to the absence of legal and formal agreements for most of these farmed areas, the insecure land tenure that affects open-space farmers is additionally manifested by the lack of governmental support for UPA. In spite of the recognition of UPA in national policies, planning authorities in Dar es Salaam did not integrate UPA into land use plans (Mlozi et al. 2014; Halloran & Magid 2013). Apart from these social and administrative problems, UPA in Dar es Salaam suffers from soil and water pollution, increasing water stress, flooding and salt water intrusion (Mlozi 2014 et al.; Mwegoha & Kihampa 2010).
Several projects had been initiated to promote and formalize UPA in Dar es Salaam. Launched in 1993 and finalized in 2003, the Sustainable Dar es Salaam Project (SDP), under the umbrella of the UN-Habitat Sustainable Cities Programme, integrated UPA into a new urban development plan. However, realization of the development plan collapsed after the completion of SDP since the central government had not been sufficiently involved (Halloran & Magid 2013). The Sustainable Cities International Network Africa Programme (SCINAP) had been implemented in Dar es Salaam between 2010 and 2013. Due to its multi-stakeholder approach between governmental authorities, planners, farmers and researchers among others, SCINAP was much more successful than previous projects. UPA was acknowledged in the new Master Plan for Dar es Salaam and in the peri-urban areas zones for UPA were designated (Halloran & Magid 2013). Nevertheless, open-space farming in urban areas of the city is still not legally recognized.
The government and planning authorities in Dar es Salaam are still debating the economic benefits and the environmental sustainability of UPA. Furthermore, the short crop sequences characteristic for open-space farming in Dar es Salaam, require considerable nutrient inputs. By contrast, the promotion of organic UPA would minimize negative environmental effects of farming activities and additionally provide organic material to improve soil conditions (Auerbach, et al. 2013, Oelofse et al. 2007). In peri-urban areas, the competitiveness of agricultural activities could be strengthened by introducing bio-economic and organic solutions, that increase economic returns for small-holder farmers and by developing marketing strategies e.g. through implementing quality control systems like the participatory guarantee system as promoted by the project collaborator TOAM. The Tanzanian organic farmers are well-organised with a total about 100,000 farmers, of which 20,000 are certified organic. Low-cost certification and control schemes as they are foreseen in the project for urban and peri-urban small-holder farmers can help the access to market for those who are not yet certified.
George is located halfway between Cape Town and Port Elizabeth. It is home to about 13,000 inhabitants of which 32% are black, 47% coloured and 18% white. Due to its location in between the Indian Ocean and the Outeniqua Mountains, the region receives substantial rainfall and provides fertile conditions for agriculture. However, space is limited and in particular poor families of coloured and black backgrounds, mostly living in township areas, avail of only very minimal stretches of land for agriculture and horticulture. However, numerous initiatives have emerged over the past years developing urban and peri-urban agriculture and horticulture on a small scale. These farmers face significant challenges including distance to markets and little information about market conditions, small yields and produce, low quality products and little negotiating power in markets rendering them rather price takers than price makers. In local food gardens in the Western Cape region around George, numerous of these farmers become involved in and experiment with organic agriculture. They restrict the use of chemicals, use organic seeds and learn how to fertilise and control pests naturally with little damage to their health and environment as well as to larger ecosystem services. Even though, in South Africa there has been little support for organic farming in general, and only a few hundred farmers are certified organic, growing numbers of local initiatives gather knowledge and experience in this type of farming. Based on previous studies lead by Prof Auerbach from NMMU, George Campus, the project will provide support for those groups that are already working organically and those who are experimenting with it. ECOSOLA seeks to learn from their successes, difficulties and failures, condense it and develop lessons for training and teaching.
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Oelofse, M., Auerbach, R., and de Neergaard, A. (2007). Targeting Socially Excluded Groups: community gardening in KwaZulu-Natal, South Africa, Urban Agriculture 14: 14-18.
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