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What will be the agriculture of future?

It was estimated in 1993 that city farms were contributing 15% to world food production. From urban agriculture to vertical faming. Projects around the world

By the year 2050, nearly 80% of the earth's population will reside in urban centers. Applying the most conservative estimates to current demographic trends, the human population will increase by about 3 billion people during the interim.
An estimated hectares of new land (about 20% more land than is represented by the country of Brazil) will be needed to grow enough food to feed them, if traditional farming practices continue as they are practiced today.
At present, throughout the world, over 80% of the land that is suitable for raising crops is in use (sources: FAO and NASA).

The concept of urban agriculture is not a new one.
Community wastes were used in ancient Persia to feed urban farming.
In Machu Picchu water was conserved and reused as part of the stepped architecture of the city and vegetable beds were designed to gather sun in order to prolong the growing season.
In present years it was estimated in 1993 that city farms were contributing 15% to world food production and it was expected to grow to 33% by 2005.
According to United Nations, some 800 million people worldwide were involved in urban agriculture in 1996, growing fruits, vegetables, and herbs, as well as raising livestock.

The Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations (FAO), has defined urban agriculture as: β€œan industry that produces, processes and markets food and fuel, largely in response to the daily demand of consumers within a town, city, or metropolis, on land and water dispersed throughout the urban and peri-urban area, applying intensive production methods, using and reusing natural resources and urban wastes to yield a diversity of crops and livestock.”

Jac Smit, President of the Urban Agriculture Network paints a vision of what the world would be like if cities were nutritionally self-reliant: "As we consider a dominantly urban Earth early in the next century, in a world with less land and water per-capita, the return of agriculture to where we live presents us with a new paradigm.”

Urban agriculture around the world
During the 1990s, several national economies saw their urban food markets collapse. Like Zambia, Mozambique, and Armenia, Cuba responded to this crisis with a food program that included support to urban agriculture: farming in the city. As a result, food prices are increasing, free markets have been reinstated, production cooperatives have been linked with markets, land has been redistributed, and areas under export crops have been converted to domestic food crops. The Cuban government is now calling upon its cities to become more self-reliant for food, a focus that is dramatically modifying the landscape, lifestyle, and food supply of Havana residents.
In Bangkok, 60% of the land is under cultivation, 72% of all urban families are engaged in raising food, mostly part-time.
In Moscow, the share of families raising food more than tripled between 1972 and 1992, from 20% to 65%.
In Dar-es-Salaam in Tanzania the number of households engaged in food production grew from 20% to more than 65% between 1970 and 1990.

Not simply urban agriculture, with current knowledge, is possible to develop new system of agriculture in the towns and cities.

Vertical farming
Vertical farming is a proposal to conduct large-scale agriculture in urban high-rises or "farmscrapers".
Using recycled resources and greenhouse methods such as hydroponics, these buildings would produce fruit, vegetables, edible mushrooms and algae year-round. Their proponents argue that, by allowing traditional outdoor farms to revert to a natural state and reducing the energy costs needed to transport foods to consumers, vertical farms could significantly alleviate climate change produced by excess atmospheric carbon.

The vertical farming is an idea of Dickson Despommier, a professor of environmental health sciences and microbiology at Columbia University in New York City.
Professor Despommier argues that the technology to construct vertical farms currently exists. Developers and local governments in the following cities have expressed serious interest in establishing a vertical farm: Inchon (South Korea), Abu Dhabi (United Arab Emirates), and Dongtan (China).

by Ernesto Vania
01 june 2009, Food & Fun > Nature