Discourse on the impacts of climate change at various scales indicates that the development deficit in developing countries coupled with exposure to climate risks will exacerbate vulnerability to the risks in the coming decades.
Although cities occupy a small percentage (5%) of land globally, they provide habitats for over half the global population and regionally differential urbanization is characterized by fast-paced urbanization in the Global South, particularly with respect to agriculture in cities.
Resilience studies and urban poverty studies now contend that urban agriculture has a role to play based on experiences of contributing towards the alleviation of poverty, but also enhancing resilience in view of climate change risks.
Therefore, every most densely populated city is continuously failing to provide its inhabitants most of the urban amenities such as having an adequate amount of green and open spaces in their city where they can breathe fresh air and enjoy some outdoor activities.
Food and Agriculture Organization of United Nations (FAO) suggests that by 2050 the population of the world would be 34% higher than it is today and mostly it will increase in developing countries. By that time 70% of the total population would be urban dwellers and to feed these large number of population, food production must increase by 70% (FAO, 2009). Considering the future food requirements of the population, research would be a proactive approach towards addressing food-related issues.
It is now imperative that we focus on producing vegetables and fruits gardens on the rooftops of buildings in the city which would provide safe foods to the inhabitants, improve food security and increase the amount of green space in the high-density city. Rooftop gardens are assumed to be the most sustainable approach to address above mentioned issues considering that rooftops are the most underutilized and untapped horizontal resource any dense city owns. In this critical situation of land scarcity, experts suggest that accommodating urban activities and food production both above the ground, specifically on the rooftops is the ultimate getaway.
Many dense urban cities are adopting and practicing green roofs as an alternative to urban open space and food production. For Singapore, a country very dense in character and with limited agricultural land, rooftop gardening seems to be the best way to grow their own food in their own land. 90% of total fruits and vegetables Singaporeans consume are imported, thus the carbon footprint of the foods is very high and freshness is compromised.
Growing foods on urban premises, as a part of urban agriculture, is an on-going practice all over the world. Researchers in Australia are promoting the benefits of rooftop food production in denser cities. Apart from environmental contribution, they are considering most the high nutritional value of the food, reduced food miles and social interaction among involved people.
Food insecurity and scarcity of green open spaces have been an unfortunate part of the residents of the city. Government is not yet completely successful in managing these two serious issues. Both these issues can cause great distress among the people of the city- mentally and physically. Therefore, a study geared towards understanding rooftop food production as a solution to these two problems will benefit everyone.
Urban food production in dense cities is an optimistic option to recreate lost green space, to nurture social interaction among the people and to increase food security (Ghosh, 2015). This research fits into the idea of providing green space, as well as fresh foods to the inhabitants of the Dhaka city. It will have a major contribution to the millions of urban dwellers living in the dense condition
In Sydney CBD, a funded experimental rooftop garden was established for the staff members and students of the University of Technology, Sydney (UTS) on the top of student housing building. Aspiration behind this initiative was to grow food in an institutional building, to establish a social bond in a working environment and to engage members in community activities.
The positive result showed the enthusiasm involved members expressed toward this initiative. In short, this rooftop garden contributed to a healthy workplace community, initiated interaction among people to share knowledge, promoted sustainable practice in institutional buildings of a dense urban condition and made a strong point on the support of green roof garden.
Research shows that in the USA rooftop garden as a food production medium is highly welcomed by the urban farmers. For example, ‘Brooklyn Grange’ is a vegetable farm which started as a pilot project on only 6000 square feet of rooftop space, in four years to meet the demand of their customer they increased the farming space to 43,000 square feet in New York City.
More than 50,000 pounds of organically produced vegetables are grown here annually, which is supplied to several restaurants in the city. Although it is a project of absolute farming, weekly they allow access of residents of the buildings to enjoy their vegetable garden.
With these growing evidence, I believe it’s a worthy cause to explore the potentials of urban farming.
Photo credit: 1) Abu Yousuf Shihab 2) The Green City