THE ENVIRONMENTAL AND ECONOMIC IMPACT OF URBAN AGRICULTURE WITHIN THE BUEA MUNICIPALITY
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Urban agriculture is not some recent activity but had been seen practiced in most developed and developing countries especially within the sub-saharan African countries. Urban agriculture is mostly done in urban areas especially by the urban poor in other to alleviate poverty as well as increasing their standard of living as in the case of Buea. Today, the growing competition for land in Buea as a result of population growth, economic and environmental activities which lead to urbanization is impacting on the practice and scale of urban agriculture. This studies examining the environmental and economic challenges face by farmers. This was explain under the various specific objective which was (To examine the characteristics / environmental and economic impact of Urban Agriculture within the Buea Municipality, To access the Challenges of Urban Agriculture in the buea Municipality, To propose measures that can be put in place to make Urban Agriculture Sustainable). The data for this analysis was base on detailed review of secondary sources, field survey and the administration of 70 questionnaires among selected owners of farms within the town of Buea. This analysis was don in an excel sheet in which frequency and percentage were calculated. Some data were presented using pie charts, bar chart, graphs and table an as well as the hypothesis which accepted the fact that urban agriculture has an environmental and economic impact within the Buea municipality. The Chi square formular was use for the test of the two hypothesis (H⁰Urban agriculture has no environmental and economic impact within the Buea municipality and H¹ Urban agriculture has an environmental and economic impact within the Buea municipality) found in the study with SPSS soft ware. Finding reveal that agriculture which was the primary activities of the inhabitants of Buea now occupy just some few areas ( urban sprawl poor transport, insecurity amongst other) causes the Buea Urban space to increase there by reducing urban agricultural space. Measures were put in place sustain urban agriculture like to improve road transport means, farming knowledge, financial assistance, and build of protective fence to reduce theft. This study concluded and recommend that, urban agriculture is sustainable if it demands, intensifying productivity and diversifying its function for Buea municipality while enhancing synergy and reducing conflict, and there by gaining more environmental and economic acceptability. The study recommended assistance from the government, municipal council and to farmers in the Buea municipality.
Agriculture has for long been an important sector in most countries in the world. This refers to the cultivation of crops and rearing of animals on a large scale (commercial purpose) or on a small scale (home consumption) Bernado, 2021). In Africa agriculture remains one of the most important economic sectors for the continent, employing the majority of the population and accounting for 14% of the GDP in sub-Saharan Africa. (Bernado, 2021).
Urban agriculture (AU) or peri-urban agriculture is a form of farming within and around cities. Due to urban characteristics (spatial constraints, land uses and quality of ecosystems) (Miguel & Minden, 2017) this type of agriculture is multifunctional and is consistent with sustainable development through its environmental, economic and social aspects. Urban agriculture is also involved in urban food security, as societal/society’s expectations regarding food and environmental protections contributes to urban ecology (Urban agriculture, Ines Plumecoq, Helioise).
Agriculture, also crucial in economic growth, it accounted for 1/3 of the global gross domestic product (GGDP) in 2014 but agricultural driven poverty reduction and food security worldwide are at risk (Dubbeling & Zeeuw 2011) . Climate change could cut crop yield especially in the world’s most insecure regions in recent years, urban cities in the world with agricultural production and crop yields have slowed and this has raised fear that the world may not be able to grow enough food and commodities to ensure the future population (Dubbeling & Zeeuw 2011). This slow down production because of shortage of land or water but rather because of low demands as a result, the growth in the world’s demand for agricultural products will be low at the rate of 2.2-1.5 and may even worsen in the less developing countries (Zeeuw, 2011). The world’s agricultural production can grow in line with demand provided that the necessary national and international policies to promote agriculture are put in place.
Urban agriculture has no predefined form, it adapts to the urban context and enhances spaces and social dynamics as urban agriculture stake holders are multiple: citizens, farmers, local communities and associations and companies. urban agriculture revitalizes market gardening and vegetable growing areas while creating interaction between the rural and urban populations. Thus, urban agriculture can be developed in different spaces; in backyards, on rooftops, in community vegetables and fruit gardens and on unused or public spaces and have several types of farming; hydroponic, aquaponic, vertical farming, field crops, breeding. The economic model of urban agriculture can be productive and lucrative or non-lucrative such as community gardens which however enhance important ecosystem services for citizens. Urban farming concentrates largely on products that do not require extensive land holdings, can survive with limited inputs and are often perishable. Thus fruits and vegetables, small livestock, such staples as cassava, maze, and beans, fish and occasional cows can be seen in cities (FAO, 1996).
In some urban areas in African, agriculture is at a crossroad. Persistent food shortages have led to mass protests and created panic among policy makers in some big cities in the continent (Ndenecho, 2005). However, there are three major opportunities that can help transform Africa’s agriculture to be the global engine of economic growth. First, advances in science, technology and engineering worldwide offer for a sustainable agricultural developmental program. Secondly, efforts to create regional markets are providing new incentives for agricultural production and trade. Third, a new generation of African leaders is helping the continent focus on long-term economic development ( Ndichia, 2004). These opportunities have led to innovation in agricultural development to receive growing attention as means of addressing the challenges of an increasingly populous and resource-constrained Africa. The need for innovation is therefore necessary and critical to creating a sustainable agricultural framework both for small and large scale famers.
In Sub-Saharan Africa, the outlook for agriculture in these countries is in the context of several megatrends that shape the sector development. These include; rapid population growth, urbanization. most of Sub-Saharan African countries are situated at the tropics where agriculture is most favorable due to tropical climate that favors the growth of plants although extreme weather conditions occur in some season and areas, it is generally a fertile ground for farming (Bernado, 2021). The lapses created by these extreme weather conditions can be corrected by many factors including modernization of farming techniques especially in areas around the Sahara, Namib and Kalahari deserts.
Cameroon being one of the countries in the Sub-Saharan region of Africa with some urban agriculture characterized by a good agricultural know-how which remains the back-bone of the Cameroon economy, employing 70% of the country’s work force which provide 42% of its GDP and 30% of its exports (Kimengsi 2012). Cameroon produces a variety of farm commodities both for export and for domestic consumption. The country harbors large, medium and small size plantations carrying out food and cash crop production to feed the local population and some for export. Cocoa and coffee are the dominantly grown in the South and Centre regions of the country, banana and rubber grown by Cameroon Development Corporation (CDC) in the South West region of Cameroon. Cameroon is characterized by different types of agricultural systems such as the subsistence, commercial, arable and livestock farming system (Wilfred 2016).
Actually, urban agriculture apart from its food production destroys biodiversity in towns through its environmental and economic impacts. Urban agriculture leads to environmental issues like observe pollution, erosion, abusive of urban flora for grazing and social issues like time wastage for crop management, land use conflict and property cost. At the local scale like Buea, urban agriculture is practiced in areas like Muea, Great Soppo among others. It has been of great importance to the population as it reduces food cost, provides a variety of food crops, and contributes to food security, health livelihood and the environment. However, the environmental and Economic limits of urban agriculture still remain a factor as it poses a threat to human life within the urban areas.
As such, the urban town of buea found in the south west of Cameroon is undergoing some urban agricultural changes at the core or peripheral area in community. This changes Could be as a result of an increase in the population of about 300000people (2022 census) which may impact the environment and economy. That is, as population keep increasing the surface area for agricultural production also reduce. This can be seen where areas found around this community undergoes infrastructural development.
The increasing rate of crop cultivation within urban peripherals and urban centers as a result of high food demands, has resulted to numerous environmental impact such as; soil, water, air pollution, abusive of urban flora for grazing and Economic impacts like; time wastage for crop management
An agricultural system is said to be highly mechanized when 85-95% of its farmers are using machines in carrying out agricultural processes. The agroindustrial complex in Buea is charge with producing and supplying tomato, pepper and other food crops to the home market. The expected impact of modern farming techniques on urban agriculture in Buea is less mechanized as farmers within this area uses more of man power (Labour) on traditional farming system and less chemical rather than machines in the production of agricultural products. By so doing, it will influence the level of food insecurity to increase there by impacting on the local and foreign population in the area.
Climate change is a prominent problem facing farm product in the community. As such, farmers ought to have much information on this parameter as agriculture remains a major livelihood sustainer. Climate change could therefore be regarded as the main cause of low living standards witnessed among many farmers in the area
Still, Food insecurity could affect nutritional status in the Buea municipality. Despite all strategies put in place food, such as the food integrated nutrition programme, zero hunger provision of social grants, and food parcels, food insecurity continues to be a challenge. Food-insecure children are at risk of being malnourished because of the consumption of improper or less food.
This study seeks to answer the following questions
What are the environmental and Economic impact of urban agriculture within the Buea Municipality?
i). What are the characteristics/environmental and economic impact of Urban Agriculture within the Buea Municipality?
- What are the Challenges of Urban Agriculture within the Buea Municipality?
iii Which are the measures that can be put in place to make Urban Agriculture Sustainable?