Container gardening against hunger in the cities (City Farmers News / Udaipur Times / Willem Van Cotthem)

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City Farming in Udaipur – City of Lakes, India
Linked by Michael Levenston

Farming In City! Farming Without A Field! Is This possible?

September 8, 2010

This guest article is written by Mr. Manish Jain from Udaipur

It is not only possible, but it is a growing movement in Udaipur.  Shikshantar, a community organization, has been working with interested individuals to produce fruits and vegetables at their homes.  Healthy, holistic living is rare in the city, but now a clean, self-sustaining city is possible and growing our own food is a major step in this direction.

“We have built our homes over soil and greenery, so we should grow greenery on our terraces to replace what we have destroyed,” says Vishal Singh, a zero waste consultant, who has planted many plants on his terrace near Gantaghar.  Terrace space is often unused and gets plenty of sunlight – perfect for a terrace farm.  A terrace garden also keeps the house cool in the summer. The management students of Phoenix Business School have also developed a vegetable garden on their terrace near Suraj Pol.  However, terraces are just the beginning.

Dr. Hakimuddin, home owner in Amrit Nagar and staff member of Krishi Vigyan Kendra, Badgaon, ripped out the water-guzzling grass from his front lawn and planted brinjals, chilies, and papaya in the monsoon season.  Now he is ready to fill old matkas(pots) with soil and create raised beds for loads of spinach and other winter vegetables up on the terrace.   He says, “I want to have healthy food for my family.  I want to get rid of the chemicals on the fruits and vegetables. I am very scared looking at abnormally big fruits and vegetables.”

Many chemicals used as pesticides are harmful to health, causing problems such as brain damage and cancer. These chemicals sprayed or injected in many fields to speed up the growth and ripening process of fruits and vegetables are unsafe.  Weak regulation of pesticides and fertilizers in India make it nearly impossible to know what is in fruits and vegetables found in the market. Nevertheless, people are standing up and creating their own solutions.

Mr. R.S. Bohra, a tax accountant living at Patel Circle near Kishanpol, has been bartering with the local kabariwala for old plastic containers (jerry cans and big water bottles) to grow fruits and vegetables on a marble flooring outside his home.  He has been harvesting 15 karelas(bitter gourd ) and 15 taroi( ) for three weeks now, has 15 bhindi(ladyfinger) plants sprouting in old plastic containers, and a patch of palak(spinach) leaves ready to eat before the regular season.  This may sound like hard work, but Mr. Bohra says, “It is relaxing and stress-relieving.  If client comes before 10am, he can found me outside happily developing my container-vegetable garden.  This is my break from the monotony of office life.”

Empty plots, which are currently health hazards full of toxic waste, can become assets to the city.


About the author:

Mr. Manish Jain is an educationist and environmentalist. He is an active member of Swaraj University and runs Shikshantar, a community organization in Udaipur.


MY COMMENT (Willem Van Cotthem)

City gardening should soon become so generalized that hunger and child malnutrition are limited or even nihilized or dissipated in the shortest time.  Let us invite WFP and FAO, the Gates and other Foundations) to produce the necessary efforts to support all citizens wanting to set up container gardening at home, on all the available terraces (roof gardening) or in and around their house.  What is possible in Udaipur should be feasible in all the cities of this world.  Bye-bye hunger, bye-bye child malnutrition.  It’s so simple that one can’t believe we are not using yet this strategy to fight hunger and poverty.

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Willem Van Cotthem

Honorary Professor of Botany, University of Ghent (Belgium). Scientific Consultant for Desertification and Sustainable Development.