Molyko, Southwest Region - Buea, Cameroon


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Urban Agriculture and food security in Buea Municipality

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Urban agriculture (UA) encompasses the growing of plants and raising of animals for various purposes within or close to urban areas. Globally, it is estimated that in 2016 around 815 million people were undernourished and around 233 million people were said to be in the sub-Saharan Africa. Farming in an urban setting has been recommended as a survival strategy because the poor observe food security as the main motivation. the study was aim to assess the Impact of Urban agriculture on food security in Buea municipality. To realize this work, a sample population of 60 farmers were sampled in a  random manner. descriptive statistics and results were being presented in tables, figures and pictures. Findings reveal that the challenges facing food security as a result to urban agriculture area low output price, poor storage facilities, poor farm to market roads, thieves, weather/climatic condition, and diseases/pest. It is recommender that, famers are advised to use fertilizers and insecticides in order to increase on their crop production. Insecticides will kill insects, pesticides will kill pest, fungicides will kill fungi and fertilizers will improve upon the soil fertility. All these are strategies to be put in place by farmers to secure high yields of crop produced. Urban farmers  should focus on increasing and sustaining their production to ensure that all the members have sufficient food crops to feed their families throughout the year



  • Introduction

This chapter comprises of the background of the study, the statement problem which explains the main issue at stake as concerning the “Urban agriculture and food security”. It will also consist of the research questions, research objectives, hypotheses, scope of study and the significance of the study, presentation of study area.

  • Background of The Study

Urban agriculture (UA) encompasses the growing of plants and raising of animals for various purposes within or close to urban areas (FAO, 2007). Globally, it is estimated that in 2016 around 815 million people were undernourished and around 233 million people were said to be in the sub-Saharan Africa (FAO, 2017).   Farming in an urban setting has been recommended as a survival strategy because the poor observe food security as the main motivation (Foeken et al., 2004). It contributes to poverty reduction by generating an income to the farmers and providing employment prospects related to small-scale food production (Hovorka et al., 2009). Urban farming has a potential of improving household food security and income. An estimate of  1 million people in developing countries faced severe food shortages as a result of liquidity challenges, climate change limited employment opportunities and economic instability (WFP, 2018). 34, 5% of urban workers have incomes that fall below the poverty datum line and those formally employed spent the majority of their income on food. (ZIMSTAS, 2015). Urban agriculture has been a major cooping strategy in improving food security in major towns and cities globally (Chaminuka and Dube, 2017).

According to (UNDP, 1996). 200 million people are employed in urban farming and related enterprises globally, contributing to the food supply of 800 million urban dwellers. Ravallion et al.  (2007) estimate that about one-quarter of the developing world’s poor live in urban areas, but also that poverty is becoming more urban and the poor are urbanizing faster than the population as a whole The recent world food price crisis has rendered the importance of understanding and confronting the causes of food insecurity of the urban poor even more apparent. Poor urban dwellers, being largely net food buyers and depending mostly on markets for their food supplies, are particularly vulnerable to adverse food price shocks, and are consistently the group in society that suffers most from higher food prices (Zezza et al., 2008). The global food and energy crisis is hitting with alarming speed and force, challenging both developed and developing economies prompting public/private agencies coupled with other international organization to respond with strategic and long term approaches. The World Bank reports that global food prices rose 83% over the last three years and the FAO (2007).

The most recent FAO projections, estimate that the level of understanding in the world have risen to 1.02 billion people during 2009, 147 million people more compared to 2006 data. This issue hits the 16% of the world’s population. As it is sadly known, the majority of the malnourished people are found in the developing countries where approximately 98% of the total lives. Future perspectives are worrying, considering that in 2050 there will be 2.3 billion people more than today to feed, the current situation; if no action will be taken it could only worsen (FAO,2008). Ibrahim et al. (2009), affirms that urban areas are faced with the problem of increasing population and consequently inadequate supply of food items. In the year 2011-2013, an estimated 842 million people were suffering from chronic hunger; the United Nations (UN) recognized the right of Food in the Declaration of Human Rights in 1948 and has since noted that it is vital for the enjoyment of all other rights. UA is very crucial in sustaining livelihoods as it create employment opportunities of around 2 million people globally as indicated by (FAO, 2012). The practice of Urban agriculture was very essential in times of crisis like wars and recession as it was the main source of food to the people residing in cities (Armstrong, 2000). Urban farming was very fundamental during the First World War in ensuring food security across Europe and even in some Asian and American countries.

Urban agriculture in Sub Sahara Africa (SSA) is practiced by people from different socio-economic classes and is done for various reasons that included addressing problems related to food supplies and employment opportunities (Nugent, 2010). It is estimated that around 300 000 households in the SSA are heavily reliant on agricultural activities for food and income (Tefere, 2010). Prain (2011) further states that more than 50% of the vegetables consumed in the region of SSA are grown in city farms and gardens thereby highlighting the importance of UA in the region. Reports by FAO (2017) indicated that urban agriculture is helping more than 55% of people living in urban areas in the region of SSA as the majority of countries in the region have poor economies with high unemployment rates. Food insecurity in SSA has been regularly linked to poverty and an estimation of around 47% in 2016 of the region’s total population were living below the poverty datum line of $1.90 a day (UN, 2017). World Food Program (WFP, 2013) indicated that more than 26 million people were being fed by food aid agencies in the Southern African Development Community (SADC) region. The Inability of people to gain access to food due to poverty in SSA is the root cause of food insecurity. Although the remaining countries of the world have made significant progress towards poverty alleviation, Africa, in particular, Sub-Saharan Africa continues to lag behind. It is predicted that there will be an increase in this tendency until and unless preventive measures are not taken. Since 1970 the condition of food security on the continent has worsened and the share of the malnourished population has remained within the range of 33 to 35 per cent in Sub-Saharan Africa. There is a lot of variation in the prevalence of malnutrition within the continent which varies by region. It is lowest in Northern Africa with 4 per cent and the highest in Central Africa with 40 per cent. (Mwaniki, 2006). 40% of urban dwellers In African countries are said to be engaged in some sort of agricultural activity and this percentage rises to 50% in Latin American countries (Ruel et al,. 1998). The World Health Organization estimates that approximately 60 percent of all childhood deaths in the developing world are associated with chronic hunger and malnutrition. In developing countries, persistent malnutrition leaves children weak, vulnerable, and less able to fight such common childhood illnesses as diarrhea, acute respiratory infections, malaria, and measles. The United Nations estimates that about 805 million people – approximately one in eight – are undernourished as of 2014. The majority of these people live in developing countries, where more than 14 percent of the people are unable to meet their dietary energy requirements. Progress has been made in southern Asia, northern Africa and most countries of eastern and southeastern Asia, as well as in Latin America. Feeding this growing global population in the years to come will require producing more food and distributing it in a manner that reaches more people (Cargill, 2014).
The root cause of food insecurity in developing countries is the inability of people to gain access to food due to poverty. While the rest of the world has made significant progress towards poverty alleviation, Africa, in particular Sub-Saharan Africa continues to lag behind. Projections show that there will be an increase in this tendency unless preventive measures are taken. Food security on the continent has worsened since 1970 and the proportion of the malnourished population has remained within the 33 to 35 percent range in Sub-Saharan Africa. The prevalence of malnutrition within the continent varies by region. It is lowest in Northern Africa with 4 percent and highest in Central Africa with 40 percent. (Angela, 2006).

The agricultural sector in Cameroon is among the main occupations in the country with over 70% of its population involved, and it contributes enormously to the country’s economy (Kinesis 2012). The lack of access to adequate amount of safe and nutritious food is a public health concern worldwide and particularly in Cameroon (Simon 2012). Due to its agro-ecological diversity, Cameroon has great potentials for agricultural production to contribute to more than 23 million people and beyond. Thus contributing towards feeding the world’s 9 billion people.

Since early 1990’s Cameroon began spending billions of francs CFA to import large quantities of food items such as rice, maize, onions, milk, tomatoes and poultry products (Moloua and Utomaki 1998), even though the country now rely on national production as a clear comparative advantage. This is worrisome as it undermines local production potentials, and pushes many producers out of the production chain. An estimated 45% of Cameroon’s Gross Domestic Product (GDP) depends on agriculture (Johnson et al.2007). According to Moloua and Utomaki (1998), low level of inputs and equally very little or no government support for instance, by providing high quality seeds, fertilizers and herbicides, the per capital food production of the country declined from 22.9% to 12.8% as a result of population growth. Based on the 3rd and 4th Assessment Report of the Inter-Governmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) (Boko et al 2007), that predicted extreme events due to climate change scenarios (1997 and 2005), there are chances that droughts may still occur in Cameroon with devastating effects. These effects may include food shortages, and long term food insecurity (Inter- Research 2008). This definitely points to the likelihood of serious food security problems in Cameroon.

Each of the key aspects of food security can be analyzed in a context of urban environment as the population grows due to different factors of urban migration. The most visible effect of urban expansion in Buea is discernible in the peri-urban areas, especially in areas like Bolifamba, Muea, Bomaka which have witnessed rapid population growth. Food security incorporates a measure of resilience to future disruption or unavailability of critical food supply due to various risk factors, some of which are uncontrolled and rapid urbanization, poor farm to market roads, loss of lands for residential purposes, traditional farming techniques and rapid changing food habits which characterize Buea.

  • Problem Statement

Urban agriculture has increasingly become a popular practice and is widely perceived to be the panacea to urban livelihood challenges. Urban households have been affected by high costs of basic food staffs and high levels of unemployment in Buea. Poverty has impoverished most households which has left some households only having one meal a days. More so, the situation is further exacerbated by the retrenchment of farmers. These challenges have been further aggravated by the massive exodus of people from rural areas into the urban areas. Hence given the above; achieving food security has become a problematic issue for the people residing in Buea. Most of the farmers have low salaries this has severe impacts to the farmers in achieving food security. All of these negative trends are accelerating in pace and intensity and agriculture is an important part of the problem. These trends threaten the sustainability of food crops and undermine the captivity to meet its food needs. Although the full implications of climate change on agriculture, forestry and fisheries are difficult to predict, it is expected that impacts will be at different levels and of a different nature in each region. For example, slight shift in annual rainfall or seasonal precipitation patterns can severely affect productivity. This current study lays emphasis on food crops within the Buea municipality

1.3 Research Question

1.3.1    Main Research Question

How does Urban agriculture affect food security in the Buea Municipality?

1.3.2 Specific Questions.

1) How has urban agriculture practiced in the Buea Municipality?

2) What are the challenges in food security as a result of Urban agriculture production in Buea municipality?
3) What are the possible solutions in order to improve Urban agriculture for food security?

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