Give peas a chance? A review of urban agriculture in developing countries. A review

Andrew J. Hamilton, Kristal Burry, Hoi-Fei Mok, S. Fiona Barker, James R. Grove, Virginia G. Williamson

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151 Citations (Scopus)


Urban agriculture is receiving increasing attention throughout the developing world, but debate rages as to whether it is a blessing or a curse. Some see it as savior for the poor, providing food, and livelihoods, yet to others it is responsible for harboring and vectoring pathogenic diseases and is an archaic practice that has no place along the path toward development. Consequently, the activity receives a mixed reception, and despite much support in many instances, it certainly does not enjoy universal unimpeded progress. Here, we undertake a global tour of urban agriculture throughout the developing world in an attempt to elucidate the various benefits, costs, and hindrances associated with the practice. Through this analysis we identify the need for better understanding of the following six aspects if urban agriculture is to make a meaningful contribution to food security and sustenance of livelihoods in the future: (1) the global and regional extent of urban agriculture; (2) the contribution of urban agriculture to communicable diseases, especially malaria but also diarrheal disease; (3) the role that urban agriculture does and/or could play in abating both malnutrition and obesity; (4) the impacts of urban agriculture on women; (5) appropriate methods of achieving governance and institutional support; and (6) the risks posed by chemical pollutants, particularly as Africa becomes increasingly industrialized. Overlaying these, we suggest that the time is ripe to extend the debate about urban agriculture’s positive and negative environmental impacts—especially in relation to carbon emissions—from primarily a developed world concern to the developing world, particularly since it is the developing world where population growth and consequent resource use is increasing most rapidly.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)45-73
Number of pages29
JournalAgronomy for Sustainable Development
Issue number1
Publication statusPublished - Jan 2014
Externally publishedYes


  • City
  • Food
  • Gardening
  • Horticulture
  • Low income
  • Third world
  • Vegetable
  • Wastewater

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