Rise of Food Prices a New Norm in Africa’s Greenest City
A brief story of Kigali
The city of Kigali is home to about 1.2 million people according to the Rwandan government, but out of 1.2 million people residing in the city agriculture employs more than half of the population mostly women both in the farm and various markets hence local vegetable vendors earn a living by supplying various local markets with fresh vegetable as part of their business understanding with the local farmers across the city. But with the rapid growth of the city there is a growing need for infrastructure expansion and enough land for human settlement across the city, according to what we think it seems like the problem is leading to the occupation of potential land of agriculture hence causing food insecurity and high rate of malnutrition in the city.
To add to that the growing urban threats to the agricultural sector by the population with lack of diet and nutrition in the coming years, though the government has tried to mobilize the population to arrange the settlement areas for them out of the agricultural sector but the process seems very slow due to lack of funds but it is known that some people have managed to regroup in small farming groups to grow vegetables in the remaining piece of land along slams
Slum farming in Kigali
According to the current situation we see on the ground there is speed growing of urbanization across different parts of the city like Gahanga, Karuruma and Ruyenzi posing more threats on small scale farmer forcing them to over farm in slum areas and valleys because of the excessive occupation of the agricultural land that acts as a basket of vegetables fro the city. The growing government projects like new roads building in most areas in Kigali is forcing more farmers to move far in searching for fertile land and even some are quitting agricultural activities and become unemployed, street vendors are passing through hardship when transporting vegetables from far villages to the city centre which is more costly and risky because there are few good roads leading to the villages hence causing them to increase prices in the markets.
Malnutrition in Kigali due to lack of nutrients
The increasing cases of malnutrition in Kigali is a result of lack of enough and healthy diet therefore there is a growing need to grow more vegetables and fulfil market demand. However according to the World Health Organization
Anaemia is a haemoglobin concentration below established thresholds. This is a wide range of social and economic consequences, and it is possible to assume that these resources are of significant importance for young children and women of childbearing age are anaemic and it is a common condition that results from a lack of certain vitamins and minerals. Not eating a balanced diet can lead to deficiency or malnutrition.
Claire Agiraneza, a 22 years old single mother, left her hometown in Rwanda’s Northern Province and moved to the capital city of Kigali with the hope to earn enough money to take care of her family. In Kigali, Claire Agiraneza bought vegetables and fruits from the Nyabugogo market and became a vendor, using a basket to sell her goods to customers in the city town canteens and going house to house looking for buyers. Even if Claire is selling her goods, it is illegal to sell goods on the streets as she does. Currently, in Kigali, there are over 6,000 illegal street vendors mainly who sells vegetables and clothes, you will find them in high traffic streets and in Bus stations. The city of Kigali has put much effort into avoiding street vendors, where there is a special unit of security guards who run after street vendors and in some cases abusing them by beating, harassing and some women have been violated by these security guards known as Inkeragutabara. It is punishable by the law to buy or sell any goods on streets, In accordance with the law and other penalties stipulated in other laws, anyone caught in the act illegal act of selling goods on the streets will be fined Rwf10,000 [$13] and asked to return the money to the person buying. Similarly, the person buying will be reprimanded and fined Rwf10,000 [$13] for buying goods in areas not designated as markets. Although they have a large market share of the food market in Kigali, they also participate in the loss of production due to their poor transportation in baskets and exposing the vegetables to the direct sunlight for many hours during the day.
Opportunity in Challenges:
According to the National Institute of Rwanda, by 2050, Kigali population will grow to 4 Million and there will be a 50% increase in demand for the food products in the whole country. With the current increase, there is 32.1% drop in agricultural workers in developing countries (WFP 2015). In Kigali, this can be an opportunity on the government, the private sector and the population in general. Kigali as the city recognized for the cleanliness and greenness, can take advantage of the present large gardens and Swamps which are reserved for recreational activities according to the Kigali master plan, and adopt the urban gardening focusing on vegetables and flowers which still looks good for the city’s image but also profitable to the food consumers and flowers for exportation. Kigali’s population growth is influenced by a high rate of rural-urban migration, and most of the immigrants are the youth with an agricultural background who came to the city with the same dreams as Claire Agiraneza of making huge money and support their families. In contrast, there currently a 17.1% unemployment in male and 18.7% in female among the Kigali population and the youth have a high share of this number. By promoting urban-based agriculture, the city will be able to benefit and employ the existing unemployed youth living in the city solve two problems at the same time. The is so many spaces in Kigali as a growing city that can be used for gardening and vegetable gardening as wetlands, gardens and even rooftops. This can contribute to the maintenance of food security of the city especially by providing enough fresh vegetables in town as for now 72% of the vegetables consumed in Kigali are from neighbouring districts and rural suppliers.
In countries like South Korea, they have adopted new technologies and approaches in agriculture to overcome this challenge. Hydroponics farming is one of the effective solutions that enabled Seoul to maintain its food security regarding urbanization and population growth. Hydroponics is a method of growing plants without soil by instead using mineral nutrient solutions in water solvent, it has so many advantages as it can be done on a small scale, vertically and as well it produces large quantity and quality in a short period of time compared to soil based agriculture. Hydroponics is mainly used in planting vegetables and fruits which is what the population of Kigali needs. As the whole country, Kigali is hilly and many swamps are reserved for other activities, which makes land for agriculture inside the city limited and can not satisfy the current growing demand for food. In Kigali hydroponics can be carried out on rooftops,indoors and public gardens as it requires low tech and you can even do it for yourself. The production of vegetables and fruits in Kigali will employ the current high number of female street cleaners who paid less than thirty Dollars a month for cleaning the streets of Kigali, by the time the gardens they clean will be producing vegetables for sale, it will improve their income as well as their children’s diet. Bringing agricultural activities in the city with innovations will attract the youth to be involved in agriculture activities as for now the numbers in agricultural labour is declining globally. Lastly, vegetables produced in cities can employ illegal street vendors through creating sale points. In conclusion, urban farming and gardening in Kigali will not only improve the cleanliness and cleanliness of the city but can provide employment, food security, recreational and research areas and contribute in fighting the current chronic malnutrition in children.
- https://waterportal.rwfa.rw/toolbox/469 Kitchen garden
- https://www.newtimes.co.rw/section/read/219249 Join effort
- https://www.newtimes.co.rw/section/read/208952 City Wetland