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Agriculture and Human Values

, Volume 32, Issue 2, pp 265–279 | Cite as

Re-conceptualizing urban agriculture: an exploration of farming along the banks of the Yamuna River in Delhi, India

  • Jessica CookEmail author
  • Kate Oviatt
  • Deborah S. Main
  • Harpreet Kaur
  • John Brett
Article

Abstract

The proportion of the world’s population living in urban areas is increasing rapidly, with the vast majority of this growth in developing countries. As growing populations in urban areas demand greater food supplies, coupled with a rise in rural to urban migration and the need to create livelihood options, there has been an increase in urban agriculture worldwide. Urban agriculture is commonly discussed as a sustainable solution for dealing with gaps in the local food system, and proponents often highlight the many social, environmental, and economic benefits. We argue that the sustainability of urban agriculture should not be assumed. There is a need for research to take a bottom-up approach, exploring the influence that city-level conditions have on livelihood decisions by farmers and how this shapes the practice of urban agriculture. This paper uses a case study for an in-depth look at urban agriculture in Delhi, India to understand from the farmers’ perspective how urban agriculture is practiced and what factors influence farmers’ livelihood decisions. Using a team-based, multi-method Rapid Assessment Process, data were collected through preliminary key informant interviews, field observations, semi-structured interviews with urban farmers, and geographic information systems mapping. This research provides an in-depth description of market-oriented urban agriculture in a developing country, explores how farmers’ livelihood decisions are embedded in the urban context, and discusses the potential of urban agriculture as a sustainable city-system.

Keywords

Urban agriculture Developing countries Local food system Rapid Assessment Process (RAP) 

Abbreviations

BOD

Biochemical oxygen demand

DDA

Delhi Development Authority

GIS

Geographic information system

RAP

Rapid assessment process

Notes

Acknowledgments

This research was supported by grant from the U.S. National Science Foundation.

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Copyright information

© Springer Science+Business Media Dordrecht 2014

Authors and Affiliations

  • Jessica Cook
    • 1
    Email author
  • Kate Oviatt
    • 1
  • Deborah S. Main
    • 1
  • Harpreet Kaur
    • 2
  • John Brett
    • 3
  1. 1.Department of Health and Behavioral SciencesUniversity of Colorado DenverDenverUSA
  2. 2.School of Environmental SciencesJawaharlal Nehru UniversityDelhiIndia
  3. 3.Department of AnthropologyUniversity of Colorado DenverDenverUSA

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