By Divya Mistry
Today, among the basic necessities in life, the most important for survival is food and water. And with the current crisis of global warming, water scarcity and pollution, it is extremely essential to look at alternative and efficient ways to ensure that good food is in abundance. Urbanisation has led to villages and towns making way for cities and that has caused less space to grow food locally. Along with that it has also led to food being transported from considerable distances. According to some reports, around one-third of the food grown globally is either damaged in transit or wasted by the eventual consumer. The solution for all these problems is not just producing more crops, but finding more space to cultivate them as well. And this is a situation that has to be seriously looked at today and regarded as top priority. In order to get effective results, this needs a large scale mechanism.
And at the most basic level, it involves individuals and every person can make a huge and better impact. Initially, on a personal level, we need to adopt correct cooking and eating habits and individually contribute towards reducing wastage of food and water. Along with this, when it comes to social functions, limiting the number of invites and narrowing down the menu as well as distributing the leftover, excess food among the less privileged can have a significant impact in combating the crisis.
However, on a more proactive level, ultimately we need to also look at taking up practices like local food farming or urban farming. This solution would ensure that there is an increase in the overall food yield, and that too healthier food, and also eliminate the transportation aspect almost entirely. And this will aid reducing food wastage and combat pollution to quite an extent.
Urban farming is essentially described as the process of cultivating and producing food in and around cities that also involves space efficiency. Apart from the sun, the two basic things required to cultivate food are space and water. And shortage of water supply being a major issue in cities, rain water harvesting is the way to go. With the huge demand for water, rain water harvesting can not only help meet the city’s requirements, but more importantly can increase the supply of water for urban farms as well as other requirements like car washing, premises cleaning, etc. Additionally, it will also play a major role in averting water shortage in future. This measure will not only raise the existing ground water table, but will also help alleviate flooding to some extent by allowing lesser runoff on the streets during heavy rains.
The other aspect is the space, which has to be literally sorted in urban areas for growing food. A number of communities and cities globally have been taking up rooftop farming in a big way. Rooftops over warehouses, factory buildings, schools, colleges and even offices and apartments are being converted into urban farms. Moreover, reclaiming public spaces like sheds above parking lots, unused areas in parks and gardens or city spaces which were hitherto being wasted or being encroached upon or misused for criminal activities can be put to a beneficial use that will greatly impact the local community in a positive way.
Apart from this, with urban farming, food is grown locally and organically. It is healthier as the use of hazardous pesticides and chemicals, which are damaging for human consumption, is eliminated entirely. There is minimal food loss in transit and a greater food yield per crop cultivation is achieved. Since transportation is extremely limited, lesser fuels are burnt thereby contributing to lower carbon dioxide emissions.
At a community level, urban farming overall has a highly positive impact, especially at a community level. It leads to more positive social interactions and a healthier lifestyle. Environmentally, the green cover on the rooftops acts as a thermal barrier and increases the energy efficiency of the buildings. And it is not just healthy, but tremendously adds to the aesthetic as well and in some cases has led to appreciation in the real estate value of the area. After all, most people would prefer living in a healthy, greener and friendly urban area and that too one where you can also eat what you grow!