Urban and Peri-Urban Agriculture for Sustainable Urbanisation

Safeguarding food security, livelihoods and the environment

Why urban and peri-urban agriculture?
Urban and peri-urban agriculture in the city of Accra, when aligned to the National Government’s ‘Agriculture-led Development’ paradigm, can provide livelihood opportunities and contribute towards an inclusive poverty alleviation strategy that encompasses other social and environmental goals. Recognising the right to farm in the city can enhance the resilience of a variety of groups engaged in urban agriculture, while benefiting the city in terms of local food production, reduced food footprints, and closing the resource loop, enhancing the sustainability of the city as a whole. Amidst incessant urbanisation the importance of agricultural spaces beyond just their ability to provide produce is often forgotten. Spaces currently being appropriated for urban agricultural purposes frequently have a crucial role in the natural and urban ecosystems. The existing functions of floodplains or hazardous areas of land make them highly unsuitable for residential or commercial development, and as such they are frequently designated as buffer-zones precisely because of these inherent risks to urban dwellers. Agricultural land within the city can be associated with time as well as space: from preserving the farming land of traditional tribes whose ancestors still engage in these activities today, to the future of Accra – an inclusive and sustainable Millennium City, to which open green spaces must be seen as an attribute, not a hindrance to progress. Removing these spaces outright will at best see open green spaces lost, and at worst limit the capacity of the urban environment to deal with increasing environmental threats, which will very likely be exacerbated with climate change. For the present and for the future, urban agriculture offers a means of using open spaces productively while contributing to the city’s continued progress and to the quality of life of its citizens.

The Development Planning Unity (DPU), part of University College London (UCL), is an international centre specialising in academic teaching, practical training, research and consultancy in the field of urban and regional development, planning and management. DPU’s MSc in Environment and Sustainable Development explores the challenges of enhancing environmental sustainability, social justice and governance. In light of these goals, this is the third year that a group of MSc students conducts extensive research to identify the achievements, obstacles and potential strategies for sustainable Urban and Peri-Urban Agriculture (UPA) in the Greater Accra Region. The 2011 group consists of 47 students and 5 academic staff from 25 countries with a variety of academic and professional backgrounds including engineering, economics and natural sciences. As with previous years, the research has been conducted in collaboration with the International Water Management Institute (IWMI), an internationally reputed organisation with over 10 years of research work focused on UPA in Greater Accra Region.

Methodology and scope
This year’s student group has been divided into five subgroups, with distinct foci on particular sites within the Greater Accra Region, three being located within AMA (La, Plant Pool and Dzorwulu) and two in Ashaiman (the Ashaiman GIDA Scheme and Roman Down site). This is a five month research project that has combined detailed secondary data review and analysis complemented by two weeks of fieldwork. The latter involved an in depth study of the specific farming sites with interactions with the farmers through interviews, focus groups, transect walks and participatory mapping techniques as well as numerous discussions with other key stakeholders. The research is intended to shed light on the situation ‘on the ground’ through diagnosis and understanding of the inception of urban agriculture and the challenges currently faced. The intention of this brief is to use the site specific research to inform city wide strategies that promote the right to farm in the city, and inform the understanding of the multiplicity of functions of agricultural land in the city.

First myth: there is no room for UPA in a modern city.
Cities world-wide have acknowledged the importance of reducing ecological footprints, aligning economic growth with social justice and environmental sustainability objectives. This includes minimising the distance food travels into the city and the subsequent carbon emissions. In addition to environmental benefits, urban agriculture has the potential to improve the landscape of cities, in turn contributes to the beautification of urban spaces.

Second myth: those practicing UPA are gardeners, not farmers – urban agriculture is not a primary livelihood activity,
just a means of subsistence farming.
Thousands of people across the Accra Region depend on income gained and produce harvested through agricultural activities for their survival. Their produce is often celebrated in local markets for its freshness due to a minimal transportation period. Urban agriculture can also contribute to poverty alleviation through increased food security in communities, and the creation of employment opportunities beyond just the farmers themselves, but right across the value chain.

Third myth:

UPA is practiced on land awaiting development, which has no other purpose to serve to the city.

There are usually good reasons why land that has been farmed for many decades has been appropriated in this way: it is either unsuitable or undesirable for urban development. Frequently land plays a pivotal role in the natural ecosystem, concurrently operating as a flood catchment area, for example. Land may also carry historical significance, such as tribal farming land, or be set aside as part of a designated buffer zone or green belt in urban master-planning. Urban agriculture in the Accra Region has permanence beyond preserving land for urban development; it is imperative that this is recognised by power brokers and policy makers.

Fourth myth: due to the quality of the water used for irrigation, vegetables grown in the Accra metropolitan region are
unsafe to eat.
Not all urban farms use waste water for irrigation. Amongst the sites studied, the Ashaiman IDA scheme uses clean water from the reservoir while the Dzorwulu and Plant Pool sites use a combination of clean piped and waste water. Furthermore, IWMI has demonstrated that there are a series of practices that reduce considerably the pathogen load while requiring low investment.

livelihoods lost through reduction of urban farming areas can be compensated by livelihoods opportunities in processing and marketing.
The urban agriculture value chain in Accra in not a homogenous business ‘sector’; different roles and responsibilities require very different skills, and the assumption that individuals can jump between positions is unfounded. This brief and the respective presentations will seek to debunk these myths, providing consistent references to several cases that we have been engaged with in the Greater Accra Region.

Fifth myth:

Lessons learnt
The site of La presents a unique environment whereby women and men are equal participants in urban agricultural activities. La provides insights into some of the most challenging land ownership issues that perpetuates throughout the country where 80% of land is customary owned and 20% comes under statutory systems. Ambiguity over ownership and control of land has permitted a complex array of urban development on agricultural lands pushing urban and peri-urban agriculture to marginal lands where farmers face extreme environmental and economic vulnerability. Furthermore opinion on UPA in La is widely disputed with the Chief and Trust in La viewing farming as ‘market gardening’ and instead favouring green revolution technologies and industrialised farming.

Characteristics of the site
La sheds light upon the spatial and social transformations dictated by modern economic pressures. Situation in La lends itself well as a case study presenting the challenges and potentials faced by peri-urban farmers, from which lesson learnt can be applied to other scenarios and ensure that similar harmful processes do not continue and threaten other UPA areas.

La (Accra)
Key findings
Land Tenure: land is owned by the East Dadekotopon Development Trust (EDDT) however there is a discrepancy between control over urban development and individual quarters. Urban agriculture is decreasing rapidly and is being pushed out by urban developments, with drivers of change being the Trust, real estate development agencies and individual families selling contested land. Land use planning: the Trust’s Master Plan has been confirmed by the Town and Country Planning Department (TCP) but is inconsistent with current urban developments, with the Green Belt areas drawn outside of their jurisdiction. The Trust believes that economic profitability dictates and have therefore assigned substantial land for development. TCP lacks monitoring & enforcement capabilities on the EDDT Master Plan leading to unauthorised development and the reduction of agricultural land. Collective Action: the focus on the fight for land tenure has left the Farmers Association in a state of stagnation, hindering their progress towards the right to farm in the city.

Proposed strategies
Integrating UPA into city planning: strengthen AWGUPA’s role in urban planning by including customary figures and recognising the potential contribution of urban agriculture to food security and sustainable livelihoods as opposed to a focus on purely economic profitability. Furthermore, ecological sustainability and the benefits of UPA need to be reframed in policy in order to be implemented within the city-wide planning strategy. Land issue in context of urbanisation: government demarcation of land can prohibit development on passive open green spaces preserved for environmental protection, including those used for urban agriculture. Social mobilisation in La: Farmers Association updating records (maps and profiles), and working alongside other city-wide initiatives focusing on enumerating the city’s marginalised communities. This could then be officially recognised by the government, policy-makers and other stakeholders. Farmers could seek greater collaboration with other active farmers groups, and explore the possibility of working with other civil society organisations representing marginalised communities in the city. This could be achieved through exchanges and knowledge sharing with, for example, People’s Dialogue, Federation with the Urban Poor and CICOL,and collaboration with Market Sellers Women’s Association of Labadi.

Lessons learnt
Farmers in Plant Pool “enjoy” a relatively better condition in terms of land security and available inputs when compared to other sites in the area. The challenges they face, both as individuals and farmers association (FA), are more related to recognition from authorities, participation in the decision-making process, and issues in internal group dynamics.

Characteristics of the site
Situated underneath high-tension power lines on institutional land owned by GRIDCO. Currently cultivated by 30-40 male farmers. Irrigation with piped water; intermittent waste water use in case of shortages. Crops grown: spring onion, Chinese cabbage, cauliflower, onion, cabbage, carrot, lettuce, white radish. Selling mainly dominated by market women, with minor alternative channels such as the FStT kiosk. • Farmers Association: formed in 2008 during the FStT project; formalized by the Department of Co-operatives in 2010; all Christian and Muslim members; Islam is the main religion. • • • •

Plant Pool (Accra)
Key findings
• Low level of recognition and participation of Plant Pool farmers in the decision making process due to poor bureaucratic accountability and transparency within the government and its interactions with civil society. • The liberalisation and modernisation agenda adopted by the government has promoted use of hybrid seeds, chemical fertilisers, pesticides and herbicides to increase crop yield, soil fertility and counter pests: this creates a cycle of dependency in unsustainable practices. • Internal dynamics within the Plant Pool FA is negatively influenced by lack of transparency and accountability within the association and its interactions with members. • The lack of solidarity, reciprocity and co-operation that currently exists within the farmers association creates a lack of trust among members of the FA. This harms their ability to work together to address issues such as encroachment of land, funding, influence the enforcement of policies and at a more general level, their ability to fulfil their individual ambitions and needs.

Proposed strategies
• Farming by the Book: Plant Pool farmers create a constitution which they can use to govern themselves and increase credibility as an organized group in the eyes of institutions. • Nothing Goes to Waste: work in partnership with CHF and Zoomlion to produce compost in a dedicated site in order to reduce dependency on commercial inputs and promote fertile and healthy soils. Farmers can use the compost for free and sell any surplus. • Protecting Plant Pool: Plant Pool farmer association can help with addressing institutional failures to monitor and address encroachments on the site. This can improve FA’s relationship with a variety of stakeholders and make managing encroachments much easier. • Act Together, Grow Together: strengthen unity within the Plant Pool FA to gain recognition with other key institutional actors, counter land problems and promote aspirations. This will build a diverse farming community, increase farmers’ bargaining power at all levels and increase their ability to access larger loans. • Know your Neighbour: farmers create a joint crop schedule and farming skill record amongst Dzorwulu, Roman Ridge and Plant Pool in order to coordinate production and increase bargaining power with buyers.

Lessons learnt

The Dzorwulu site experiences high land tenure insecurity despite the farmers’ 40-year occupation and the mutual benefits generated for both farmers and the public land owner. The farmers are well organised within an association and possess a high level of hybrid knowledge as a result of the strong emphasis they place on sharing farming practices. The site has seen numerous planned interventions in partnership with several governmental, non-governmental and research organisations as well as commercial input producers. As a result Dzorwulu is notable for the innovative practices adopted by its farmers through their own trial and error resulting in a combination of conventional, theoretical, and applied knowledge.

Characteristics of the site

Most of the farming takes place in the buffer zone around high tension power lines on institutional land owned by VRA/GRIDCO. Farming has been taking place since the 1970’s without any formal agreement between farmers and landowners. There are 31 farmers (3 females/28 males) on the site of whom 26 are members of the association that operates since 2000 and is registered with the department of cooperatives. Some farmers informally employ around 17 labourers in total. They use piped water and untreated waste water from adjacent drains for irrigation. Inputs into the production entail hybrid seeds, chemical fertiliser, fungicides and pesticides, chicken manure and compost. The crops grown are mostly exotic produce such as lettuce, cabbage, cucumber and spring onions.

Dzorwulu (Accra)
Key findings
• There is an informal agreement with VRA/GRIDCO to use the land but farmers do not have any legal agreement to secure their presence in the area and are aware of their insecure situation. The association of farmers is presently looking for land in rural areas. • The farmers’ practices are heavily influenced by trainings, interventions and commercial trials by government departments, research organisations, inputs dealers and NGO’s. In accordance with the experiences made, the farmers decide whether to adopt, adapt or drop those practices, resulting in a combination of ecologically sound practices and those which rely heavily on chemical inputs. While the planned interventions emphasise the safe production and marketability of vegetables, they are not necessarily environmentally sustainable. • Farmers do not perceive a difference in the productivity of irrigation with either piped water or waste water. The markets do not provide incentives for the use of piped water. Farmers who use piped water are incurring an added operational cost to their production due to the location of their plot on the site.

Proposed strategies
• Secure the usufruct of land in situ: push for MoU between the farmers and VRA/GRIDCO that is driven by the farmers and supported by AMA and AWGUPA in order to enhance the farmers’ resilience in case of displacement. • Secure the usufruct of land in other localities: acquire and farm land in rural or periurban areas as backup strategy in the case of displacement. Consider the involvement of MoFA and AWGUPA in securing land in rural or peri-urban areas. • Enhance collective action: push for a redefinition of the Greater Accra Cooperative Vegetable Farmers and Marketing Union to go beyond its economic function to collectively push for land security, enhance sharing of information and knowledge between urban farmer groups and increase farmers’ participation in decision making processes while opening up the Union to all urban farmer groups and individuals. • Improve the water usage: to provide clean water supply through multiple oxidation ponds cleansing system that runs throughout the middle of the Dzorwulu area on an existing thinner drain. This will provide cleaner water to farmers using it otherwise directly taken from the drain, and alleviate the pressure and costs of piped water.

Lessons learnt Urbanisation continues to threaten the Roman Down (RD) site as encroachment continues. However due to the site being a natural flood plain, developments pose a high risk both to the encroachers, as regular flooding jeopardises structures, and also to the GIDA site which is situated upstream. Urban agricultural activity on RD has the potential to safeguard such areas, protecting them from urbanisation. ‘Locking’ the use of such areas for urban agriculture would ensure that some spaces within the urban area remain open and productive spaces. Institutional weakness lies within the enforcement of laws protecting land from encroachment. Characteristics of the site Land: currently leased by GIDA from the Tema Development Corporation; RD farmers are not officially recognised by GIDA; encroachment due to selling of the land by the traditional chiefs. Farmers: 40+ farmers, 32 are members of the Roman Down Cooperative, which has been very active in fighting the encroachment. Farming system: produce includes peppers and tomatoes, okra and maize. Reliance on drain water during the dry season constrains their income as it limits the type of crops they can produce.

Roman Down (Ashaiman)
Key findings
• The importance of urban agriculture on RD goes beyond agricultural production as it serves to protect the surrounding area from dangers related to flooding. Farmers are actively protecting the land in open spaces by trying to prevent encroachment. Keeping the land clear of structures not only protects the GIDA site from flooding but also reduces the risk of people being harmed by the flooding. • Weak enforcement of laws by AshMa and GIDA regarding uncontrolled developments in Ashaiman is the key institutional limitation impacting farmers’ secure access to land. • The co-operative is growing in strength primarily due to concern over the pressing issue of encroachment. As a result, the establishment of collaborative practices that would enhance their position in the value chain is not a main priority.

Proposed strategies
• Power in the numbers: organise and strengthen relationships between RD and GIDA in order to share knowledge in relation to agriculture practices (two-way) as well as around the issue of encroachment. • Pursue protocol: RD farmers to reset the relationship with the Stool which would then pave the way for smoother discussions with AshMA. align with civil society (the • Life’s better together: neighbourhood) as well as FUP & DCMC groups in order to strengthen negotiating position with higher levels of government.

Lessons learnt
The Ashaiman GIDA Irrigation Site benefits from clean water supplied from the reservoir upstream through irrigation canals constructed by JICA in the 1990s. Although the fact that farmers operate on institutional land and therefore have a measure of land security, they still experience fears of encroachment, either directly or indirectly. Unsolicited housing constructed on the banks of the reservoir deposit liquid and solid waste into the water. This is potentially damaging to the water quality and exacerbates the flood risk.

Characteristics of the site
The farmers rent tenure from GIDA through irrigation service charge. Majority of the farmers have farmed their land for 20+ years. There are 93 farmers on the site all of who belong to the cooperative. Under-utilisation of the Right Bank has led to overcrowding on the Left Bank resulting in average plot sizes of 1-1.5 acres per farmer.

GIDA Irrigation Scheme (Ashaiman)
Key findings
• There is evidence of valuable resource of farmers knowledge that fuses GIDA training, experimentation & innovation and farmer-to-farmer knowledge sharing. There is a lack of recognition from governance structures of the value of farmers knowledge and innovation. • Farmers have not had access to bank loans due to perceived high default rate leading to over-dependence on market mummies. However since 2011, loans have been granted to individuals by MASLOC and to the Co-operative by ADB. • The priorities of city planning in Ashaiman are on urbanisation and economic development threatening UA. This is proven by there not being specific policies on UA yet in Ashaiman by major planning bodies (AshMA and TDC). • The encroachment site surrounding the reservoir not only is affecting the water quality but also the irrigation infrastructure and the natural resources.

Proposed strategies
• Report, recognise and disseminate farmers´ knowledge management systems through a multi-stakeholder forum of GIDA, MoFA, Farmers, etc. • Develop a seed bank co-operative for all farmers to utilise and contribute to. • Training through mentoring schemes and schools. • Consolidate collective financial capital by the co-operative through a common savings scheme which could either enable access to loans or large scale investments. • Incorporate promotion of UA in urban planning from land zoning to waste and water management through the involvement of all the relevant stakeholders. • Organise through the cooperatives of Roman Down and GIDA a coordinated action plan to tackle the increasing levels of waste (e.g. implementing a mesh on the catchment area).

Propagating the benefits of UPA Recognition of the role of UPA as an active component of sustainable urban development needs to be deepened and widened across institutions and articulated into the wider vision for a sustainable Greater Accra. Safeguarding vital open spaces There is a potential symbiotic relationship between protecting environmentally sensitive areas (e.g. buffer zones) restraining the urbanisation of areas with low aptitude for residential purposes, greening the city, preserving the functioning of key environmental services, while securing the right to farm in the city. This synergy can be achieved by mainstreaming urban agriculture into land use planning mechanisms. Grounding change through the value chain Planned interventions aimed at strengthening farmers’ ability to move upwards in the value-chain and/or foster their negotiation capacities with other actors need to recognise the existing skills, social relations, networks and aspirations of urban farmers. Nurturing farmers-led change Farming in the city is not a new or occasional activity. Over the years women and men in Greater Accra have adapted their farming practices to respond to the limitations and opportunities of the urban context. Their experiences constitute a rich and diverse reservoir that should be recognised and supported through the consolidation and cross-fertilisation of their knowledge, practices and collective action across faming associations and other typically disenfranchised communities.

For more on the Right to Farm in the City in Greater Accra region: In Ghana: International Water Management Institute (IWMI) PMB CT 112 Cantonments - Accra Contact: Dr. Olufunke Cofie E-mail:o.cofie@cgiar.org In London: Development Planning Unit (DPU), University College London (UCL) 34 Tavistock Square, London WC1H 9EZ, UK Contact: Adriana Allen E-mail: a.allen@ucl.ac.uk To access the outputs of this study, visit www.ucl.ac.uk/dpu

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