A recent study for the International Water Management Institute (IWMI) found that global urban agricultural developments account for an area larger than all 28 nations of the EU. Because the research focused only on areas with more than 50,000 residents, the actual area of land occupied by urban agriculture is likely to be significantly greater.
At the moment agriculture-related research is focused on rural areas. This includes research into combating starvation, feeding growing populations and sustaining a more urban-dominated planet. The IWMI’s new conclusions challenge this focus and have a wide range of implications for research worldwide. This is widely being hailed as good news as it means that rural areas that have in the past been written off as no-go areas for agriculture and the research related to it can now be counted in efforts to solve many sustainability problems.
The numbers, which are statistical calculations based on satellite imagery, are promising: The total amount of rice grown by urban farmers for instance is greater than the total grown in South East Asia. Similarly, the total amount of maize grown in and around towns is greater than that grown in Sub-Saharan Africa. So put down that cup of tea and tend those carrots!