The School of Agriculture at the University of Cape Coast has demonstrated a greenhouse production and the greening of the environment in urban residential areas in Cape Coast.
The project seeks to test an idea of greening, actively managing and using urban spaces that are currently unmanaged or unused to produce vegetables and green landscape.
The project mobilises regulations, policies and practices to enable productive use and active management of these spaces to serve multifunctional purposes in the urban landscape.
A team of researchers comprising Dr. David Oscar Yawson (Principal Investigator), Dr. Michael Osei Adu, Prof. Frederick Ato Armah and Dr. Paul Agu Asare have demonstrated the idea by successfully installing two greenhouses together with watering facilities and inputs in residential areas at the University of Cape Coast. The two units of the greenhouse package have produced fresh vegetables for consumption and for sale.
According to the researchers, as part of the implementation phase, it has become imperative for the researchers to engage policy and decision makers as well as the general public in disseminating the findings of the project.
The team avers that in Ghana, land use is poorly planned or regulated while urban landscape management is not given a priority. As a result, there are several areas which are either not productively used or are highly degraded in the urban landscape. They contend there are also natural to semi-natural areas that resemble parks but are unmanaged. Some of these spaces are inhabited by flower producers as their nursery sites, by migrants who turn these spaces into urban farms for mainly vegetable production, or by people hawking small items on the street, or are used as unauthorized waste dumps, with some serving as hideouts for miscreants and abodes for squatters and reptiles.
Speaking at the launch of the project, one of the lead researchers of the project, Dr. Michael Osei Adu emphasized the need for a policy to be fashioned so unused land could be used for such vegetable productions to ensure that people produce the food they will consume and some probably for sale.
"Because there is no functional property market and no direct intervention of government in the housing market, there is a huge pressure on land for private, family unit or low-density houses. Many people have bought parcels of land, ranging from one to as much as 10 plots," he said.
The researchers explain that due to the high cost of building, a substantial number of these plots lie idle for years in the urban landscape. They cite a few instances, people use these plots to produce food crops seasonally. They assert that put together, these underutilized and idle spaces, both private and public, constitute a large area within the urban landscape.
"These spaces can offer opportunities for intensification and improvement in urban greenery and aesthetics, food production and livelihoods. The users of these spaces are trained in landscaping to enable them to actively manage the space given to them to ensure environmental sustainability," he stated.
The Project proposes the use of marginal or idle urban lands not earmarked for development in the medium term (5-10 years). These lands may be communal or private, belonging to the state or local authority, families, chiefs or private individuals. In these spaces, it is proposed that greenhouses can be installed and the adjourning environment beautifully landscaped.
A greenhouse (measuring 9 x 15 m), together with appropriate agronomic practices, can produce 2000 kg of tomatoes which can be sold to generate a revenue of approximately 20,000 Ghana Cedis. It can also be used to produce other crops such as pepper, cucumber, cabbage, among many others.
The Piloting Edible Urban Landscape Project also tests the idea of using women and youth to produce food and earn incomes from underutilized and idle urban spaces.
The Project further provides the opportunity for intensive use, protection and beautification of urban spaces while generating livelihood opportunities for women and youth to augment food security. Thus, the proposed project addresses two cross-cutting themes on women and youth and sustainable intensification.
Further, the project directly addresses the cross-disciplinary themes: socio-economic dimensions of smallholder agriculture and multifunctional landscapes in agriculture. Farming in the urban core and periphery are now major contributors to food security and urban landscape structure. The project demonstrates the potential of generating value from idle spaces in a multifunctional perspective to enable wider adoption and impacts across Ghana and elsewhere.
The Project is funded by SIDA through the University of Gothenburg, Centre for Environment and Sustainability (GMV) under the Agriculture for Food Security, (AgriFoSe2030) - Translating science into policy and practice programme.
The AgriFoSe2030 programme targets the UN Sustainable Development Goal 2: End hunger, achieve food security and improved nutrition and promote sustainable agriculture" in low-income countries. The AgriFose2030 aims to contribute to increased participation and influence for women and youth within farming, agribusiness and entrepreneurship along food value chains.
The project is managed at the University of Cape Coast (UCC) by the Directorate of Research, Innovation and Consultancy (DRIC).
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