This presentation describes the achievements of an FAO project for urban and peri-urban horticulture in five cities of the Democratic Republic of Congo.
The project has demonstrated how intensification of horticultural production, in and around cities, can improve the food security and nutrition of urban populations, while creating sustainable livelihoods for low-income vegetable growers. Lessons learned from the project will help other developing countries respond to a megatrend of the 21st century: rapid and massive urbanization.
The world’s urban population has reached some 3.2 billion people, surpassing, for the first time, the number of people living in rural areas. Within two decades, 60% of the world’s population – or five billion people - will be urban dwellers. Almost eight out of every 10 urban residents will be in developing countries.
Cities in Sub-Saharan Africa are growing at an average rate ofabout 3.5% a year, more rapidly than any in other part of the world. In West Africa, theurban population growth rate exceeds 6%,twice the rate of the total population growth. Within 10 years, more than half of Africa’s population will live in cities.
Urbanization is accompanied by high levels of poverty, unemployment, food insecurity and malnutrition.The urban poor are highly vulnerable to economic downturns and food price inflation. Unlike rural people, they have few food reserves andare usually unable to grow their own food. Levels of child malnutrition among the urban poor are as high as those in rural areas.
Since Gerard Piel’s seminal work on the urbanization of poverty, the international community has recognized that food supply and distribution systems must be improved and strengthened to meet escalating levels of urban food insecurity.
Since 1999, FAO’s global mandate includes urban and peri-urban agriculture, which aims at ensuring food for the cities, creating employment and generating income for the urban poor. A major component of urban and peri-urban agriculture is intensification of horticultural production in and around cities.
One of FAO’s first initiatives for urban and peri-urban horticulture was launched in the Democratic Republic of Congo in 2000, with funds provided by the Kingdom of Belgium. Since then, Belgium’s continued support has allowed the project to expand and cover five cities.
The Democratic Republic of Congo is undergoing very rapid urbanization, driven by an exodus of people from rural areas and from zones in conflict. In 2001, the population of the capital, Kinshasa,was estimated at six million. Today it is around 10 million. By 2025, Kinshasa will be home to almost 17 million people, making it Africa’s biggest city.
To help meet the food needs of the country’s rapidly expanding urban population, the UPH projectis being implemented in the cities ofKinshasa, Kisangani, Likasi, Lubumbashi and MbanzaNgungu. Implementation of the project has been guided by what FAO calls the “Five-S” strategies, which have been developed, tested and refined over the past decade…
In rapidly growing cities, competition for land and water is intense, and the rights of market gardeners can be precarious. Land traditionally used for horticulture is often taken over for housing, industry and infrastructure. Some market gardeners rent land from the state, or from private owners. Others have usage rights under customary law, or have simply occupied the land they farm.
To secure access to high quality land and water for vegetable growers, the project facilitated the zoning of areas for horticulture in municipal development plans, as well aspublic concessions and long-term leases for producers’ associations. Today, 1,650 ha of land in the five project cities have been secured. Each hectare provides work for at least 40 persons per day. The total area represents, therefore, 66,000 new job opportunities. To secure water for irrigation, more than 40 structures have been built or upgraded. An extrabenefit of irrigation developmenthas been better access to safe water for domestic use.
Intensification of production and diversification of crops is essential for improving the productivity and incomes of small-scale vegetable growers. But intensified production in urban areas often leads to use of unsafe water and to agrochemical pollution of the environment. The second strategy, therefore, is to ensure not only increased production, but the quality and safety of produce and protection of the environment.
In the Democratic Republic of Congo, the project helped organize producers’ associations and train them in integrated plant production and protection management. IPP helps reduce reliance on pesticides by growing adapted cultivars, combined with good cultivation practices and improved production technologies. There are now 477 farmer associations with a total of 20,000 members, of whom 12,200 are women.
The project uses farmer field schools to disseminate improved horticultural practices. So far, more than 400 farmer field schools have been conducted with 10,400 direct beneficiaries. The number of adapted vegetable varieties being sown has more than doubled. Another achievement has been the establishment, across the country, of 55 school gardens - powerful tools for improving child nutrition and education.
An important goal of the project is long-term sustainability. That is possible only when those participating in the horticultural production chain take genuine ownership of activities. By investing in their enterprises, farmers become active stakeholders in their own future.
To encourage ownership, the FAO project has helped establish micro-credit facilities managed by the farmer associations. So far, 14,500 farmers and 71 micro-enterprises have invested small loans in production and related activities. Repayment rates are high.
Thanks to assured access to land and water, training in improved production technologies and practices, and investment loans, vegetable growers in the five cities have established profitable enterprises and sustainable livelihoods. The average monthly income of vegetable farmers ranges from 51 US dollars in Kisangani to almost $300 in Likasi. The growers in Likasi now earn more than a civil servant.
Horticulture is a high-risk enterprise when production is not closely linked with markets. In many developing countries, a large proportion of highly perishable fruit and vegetables are lost. The project’s fourth strategy, therefore, is to secure market outlets by promoting fruit and vegetable consumption, linking farmers toagribusiness and large retailers, and developing market opportunities for fresh and processed products.
The project has helped farmers secure markets for their produce. To overcome the problem of perishability, it introduced simple post-harvest processing technologies for some popular vegetables, such as chili. Chili paste is now being commercialized in local supermarkets. Market collection and sales points have been built in 12 neighborhoods to link farmers to consumers.
Development of a thriving urban and peri-urban horticulture sector requires commitment on the part of national governments and city authorities. Institutionalization of UPH programmes is the key to their sustainability. Sustainability implies independence from long-term external assistance, integration into national and city development planning, allocation of adequate resources, and the participation of all stakeholders.
The government of the Democratic Republic of the Congo recognizesthe importance of urban and peri-urban horticulture in meeting the food needs of the country’s urban population, while contributing to the livelihoods of low-income horticultural producers and other participants in the supply chain. UPH has been integrated into its national agriculture development strategy. To institutionalize support to UPH, the National Urban Horticulture Service has decentralized technical offices in 13 cities and municipalities.
The project has shown that the Five-S strategies provide an effective framework for development of urban and peri-urban horticulture. Technical guidance and capacity building through farmer field schools have improved the effectiveness and sustainability of production and post-production systems. The urban and peri-urban horticulture project in the Democratic Republic of Congo is alsoa knowledge platform – the lessons learned will be disseminated to other countries in the Great Lakessub-region of Africa, and beyond.
Thank you for your attention
DR Congo: Growing greener cities
Growing greener<br />in the Democratic Republic of the Congo<br />cities<br />Democratic Republic<br />of the Congo<br />
The challenge: Urbanization<br />World urban and rural population growth (millions)<br />Source: UN-Habitat, <br />Global Urban <br />Observatory, 2008<br />Democratic Republic<br />of the Congo<br />
Urbanizing Africa<br />Urban population growth in Africa (%)<br />Source: Africa Environment Outlook: Past, present and future perspectives<br />(UNEP/GRID-Arendal)<br />Percentage of population residing in urban areas<br />Democratic Republic<br />of the Congo<br />
Effects of urbanization<br />Effects of rapid urbanization<br /><ul><li>Increasing urban poverty
High unemployment</li></ul>Democratic Republic<br />of the Congo<br />
Urban poverty and food security<br />“The world’s poor once huddled largely <br />in rural areas. In the modern world, <br />they have gravitated to cities.”<br />Gerard Piel<br />The urbanization of poverty worldwide,<br />Challenge, Vol. 10, Feb. 1997<br />Democratic Republic<br />of the Congo<br />
Urban poverty and food security<br />“Urban food security <br />and its related problems <br />should be placed high on the agenda <br />in the years to come.”<br />Jacques Diouf<br />FAO Director-General<br />State of food insecurity <br /> in the world 2006<br />Democratic Republic<br />of the Congo<br />
Urban horticulture in DR Congo<br />Democratic Republic<br />of the Congo<br />
Kinshasa 2025: Africa’s biggest city<br />Adapted from <br />UN-HABITAT 2008<br />Democratic Republic<br />of the Congo<br />
The cities<br />Five project cities<br />Kisangani<br />Kinshasa<br />MbanzaNgungu<br />Likasi<br />Lubumbashi<br />Democratic Republic<br />of the Congo<br />
The “Five-S” strategies<br />Strategy 1:<br />Secure land and waterresources<br />Democratic Republic<br />of the Congo<br />
1. Securing land and water<br /><ul><li>UPH project activities on 1,900 ha of land
1,650 ha now secured</li></ul>Democratic Republic<br />of the Congo<br />
The “Five-S” strategies<br />Strategy 2:<br />Secure produce quality <br />and safety, protect <br />the environment<br />Democratic Republic<br />of the Congo<br />
2. Securing produce quality and safety<br />Democratic Republic<br />of the Congo<br />
2. Securing produce quality and safety<br /><ul><li>413 farmer field schools