- AGRO TOURISM/COMMUNITY GARDENS: This involves farming in agricultural recreational parks in peri-urban locations combined with the provision of facilities and services for urban tourists (e.g., food, accommodation, guided tours, and horse riding).
The benefits of this system can be classified into benefits to farmers, benefits to the public, and socio-economic benefits.
Benefits to farmers include direct marketing, additional income avenue, increased profits, interaction with customers, and seasonal flexibility.
Benefits to the public include transparency of food sources, education on farming practices, and outdoor recreation.
Socio-economic benefits include improved farmer-community relationships, promotion of smallholder communities, and increased sale of local products/services.
The limitations to adapting this system include low initial financial returns, it is labour and time-intensive, requiring bespoke laws and regulations, high risk of crop damage from tourist activity, vulnerability to economic downturns, loss of farmer privacy, and lack of customers (tourist) awareness.
A great example of a successful Agro tourism venture is the Tangaro farm in Magaliesberg, South Africa. Which provides strawberry picking and picnic services along with other tourist attractions including a hotel, restaurants, hot air ballooning, a golf course, and a shooting range.
This can be adopted in peri-urban areas with unique vegetative and climatic environments such as Mambilla Taraba State, Vom Plateau State, Obudu Cross-Rivers State, etc. To provide extra revenue for cities while simultaneously ensuring food security, and improved health for the surrounding urban citizenry.
- INSTITUTIONAL FARMS: This is food production and management by institutes, such as schools, hospitals, prisons, and other non-profit organizations. Institutional farms have been adopted by many cities and institutions to ensure economic viability, and to serve surrounding communities. Concurrently, achieving social cohesion in the institutions. Examples of successful institutional farms include UrbanFarmers AG a spin-off from the University of Applied Sciences in Wädenswil, which runs the UF001 LokDepot rooftop farm in Basel Switzerland, and Brickborn Farming which was developed by researchers from the University of Applied Sciences Dresden, Germany.
This system can be adopted by institutions in Nigeria (e.g., by schools as part of the school feeding program) to cut down their consumption cost and ensure sustainable, self-reliant food systems in the short term, with successful projects scaled up to provide commercial revenue earnings.
BENEFITS OF URBAN FARMING:
· Employment opportunities across value chains for the low-income urban population. The anticipated mass retrenchment, job losses and business uncertainty due to COVID19 economic effects can be assuaged with urban farming and value chain activities (inputs, distribution, processing, marketing, etc.), with a resulting reduction in crime.
· Innovation /technology transfer: Urban farming techniques are on the cutting edge of agricultural innovation; adaptation of these methods will facilitate homegrown innovations and technology transfer among urban farmers, and value chain players.
· Reduced supply cost
· Less pressure on rural production lines will facilitate increased output margins to meet processors’ demand.
· Improved quality of perishables. Ensuring food security and food sources for the most vulnerable urban population.
· Health benefits such as leisure, recreation, and healthy diets.
· Community development and social inclusion.
· Waste/Water/ Soil management: Organic waste from homes can be used as compost for crop production. Reduced water and soil consumption are also benefits of Urban farming techniques.
· Environmental benefits: Greening of cities, Climate mitigation, and adaptation, increased biodiversity, pollution reduction.
· Post-harvest loss of fruits and vegetables from transportation and storage will be greatly reduced due to the proximity of urban farms to target markets.
· Urban farming is generally not suitable for plants that require vast acreage due to land limitations in urban areas. Grains such as rice, corn, sorghum, etc. will still have to be grown in rural or peri-urban areas.
· The risk of water and soil contamination from the use of agrochemicals. This can however be assuaged by encouraging organic farming techniques and systematically prohibiting the use of agrochemicals over a while.
· A lack of community structures across urban areas in Nigeria might prove challenging.
· Illiteracy/lack of skills: This is a challenge, especially with adaptation and implementation acceptance. There must be a targeted effort at developing orientation, and extension systems.
· Operational cost: energy, infrastructure, and management cost are high. Solar power can be a suitable energy alternative.
· Plant adaptation for Closed environment agriculture: Plants will need to adapt to CEA growing conditions. Means, new crop genetics will need to be designed specifically for vertical farm production that addresses five traits of interest: easy and uniform fruiting; rapid biomass and multi-harvest capable crops; photoinduced quality; auto-harvest friendly traits; and dwarf plants with yield efficiency