How Urban farmers are the answer to Bangalore’s concrete build-up

How urban farmers are the answer to Bangalore's concrete build-up

The importance of urban agriculture is for the sense of purpose, the social fabric, and the resilience of local communities. Urban agriculture can contribute to food security and nutrition, income generation, and environmental management, for example, by reusing urban organic waste, creating green belts, and providing ecosystem services.

In Bangalore, expansion imperatives are crucial, and urban agriculture is often a deterrent to development. When development is depicted as technological and infrastructural advancement, productivity, economic development, and modern and global cultural associations, urban agriculture is often portrayed as a backward, localized, low-tech, low-economic performance movement. The legacy of past under development should be abandoned to make room (land) to expand a more ‘productive’ economy.

It is especially challenging to measure the less tangible effects of urban agriculture on local communities and cultures in Bangalore. Thus, both those who oppose and defend urban agriculture often measure its impacts solely on material or economic productivity. Evaluations limited to monetary values ​​overlook the symbolic importance of food self-sufficiency and the reinvention of new peasant identities. In turn, the challenges in measuring urban agriculture have contributed to its invisibility in territorial planning and the field of urban development policy formulation.

Contrast between urban and rural worldsIn Bangalore

  • In Bangalore, the contrast between urban and rural worlds can be observed in all its contradictions in the urban space. This is how urban agriculture in Bangalore has been explicitly portrayed by planners, real estate developers, and local authorities as a barrier to economic progress.
  • Along with households that produce mainly for the market, there are also a large number of families for which agriculture is neither the main occupation nor the primary source of income. Therefore, urban agriculture in Bangalore, as in other cities in the region, is by no means a homogeneous phenomenon. Furthermore, many households engage in agriculture as a generalized “normal” practice in local communities, not because political interventions or development projects promoted urban agriculture.
  • Many urban households in Bangalore produce food for self-consumption (self-supply) and exchange food with other homes outside the market. Although not all urban farmers are engaged in self-sufficiency and food exchange to the same extent and the same ways, such practices are more related to vegetables, fruits, and herbs than livestock or animal products. The exchange of food is less generalized than self-sufficiency.
  • Urban farmers have a very positive general perception of the role of urban agriculture in Bangalore. Participants highlight the contribution of urban agriculture as a source of income and healthy and clean food, which contributes to their food security. In summary, this study indicates the existence of a very lively food exchange social network and an even more robust practice of growing at least part of one’s food supply in the urban space of Bangalore.
  • A ray of hope is seen in the gradual change initiated by urban agriculture. Many alternatives in the fight for inclusion, justice, and social equity are transforming mentalities and breaking schemes through innovative methods such as community gardens, rooftop farms, winery farms, vertical production, backyards, hydroponics, and all kinds of parks located within the metropolitan belts.

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