Urban agriculture: A global analysis of the space constraint to meet urban vegetable demand

F. Martellozzo, J. S. Landry, D. Plouffe, V. Seufert, P. Rowhani, N. Ramankutty

Research output: Contribution to JournalArticleAcademicpeer-review

Abstract

Urban agriculture (UA) has been drawing a lot of attention recently for several reasons: the majority of the world population has shifted from living in rural to urban areas; the environmental impact of agriculture is a matter of rising concern; and food insecurity, especially the accessibility of food, remains a major challenge. UA has often been proposed as a solution to some of these issues, for example by producing food in places where population density is highest, reducing transportation costs, connecting people directly to food systems and using urban areas efficiently. However, to date no study has examined how much food could actually be produced in urban areas at the global scale. Here we use a simple approach, based on different global-scale datasets, to assess to what extent UA is constrained by the existing amount of urban space. Our results suggest that UA would require roughly one third of the total global urban area to meet the global vegetable consumption of urban dwellers. This estimate does not consider how much urban area may actually be suitable and available for UA, which likely varies substantially around the world and according to the type of UA performed. Further, this global average value masks variations of more than two orders of magnitude among individual countries. The variations in the space required across countries derive mostly from variations in urban population density, and much less from variations in yields or per capita consumption. Overall, the space required is regrettably the highest where UA is most needed, i.e., in more food insecure countries. We also show that smaller urban clusters (i.e., <100 km2 each) together represent about two thirds of the global urban extent; thus UA discourse and policies should not focus on large cities exclusively, but should also target smaller urban areas that offer the greatest potential in terms of physical space.

Original languageEnglish
Article number064025
JournalEnvironmental Research Letters
Volume9
Issue number6
DOIs
Publication statusPublished - 1 Jun 2014

Fingerprint

urban agriculture
Vegetables
Agriculture
vegetable
urban area
food
Food
Population Density
population density
analysis
demand
urban population
Urban Population
Food Supply
accessibility
Masks
Environmental impact
Costs and Cost Analysis

Keywords

  • area required
  • food security
  • global vegetable demand
  • urban agriculture
  • urban land use

Cite this

Martellozzo, F. ; Landry, J. S. ; Plouffe, D. ; Seufert, V. ; Rowhani, P. ; Ramankutty, N. / Urban agriculture : A global analysis of the space constraint to meet urban vegetable demand. In: Environmental Research Letters. 2014 ; Vol. 9, No. 6.
@article{734309896ba74685ade07cbdd2449129,
title = "Urban agriculture: A global analysis of the space constraint to meet urban vegetable demand",
abstract = "Urban agriculture (UA) has been drawing a lot of attention recently for several reasons: the majority of the world population has shifted from living in rural to urban areas; the environmental impact of agriculture is a matter of rising concern; and food insecurity, especially the accessibility of food, remains a major challenge. UA has often been proposed as a solution to some of these issues, for example by producing food in places where population density is highest, reducing transportation costs, connecting people directly to food systems and using urban areas efficiently. However, to date no study has examined how much food could actually be produced in urban areas at the global scale. Here we use a simple approach, based on different global-scale datasets, to assess to what extent UA is constrained by the existing amount of urban space. Our results suggest that UA would require roughly one third of the total global urban area to meet the global vegetable consumption of urban dwellers. This estimate does not consider how much urban area may actually be suitable and available for UA, which likely varies substantially around the world and according to the type of UA performed. Further, this global average value masks variations of more than two orders of magnitude among individual countries. The variations in the space required across countries derive mostly from variations in urban population density, and much less from variations in yields or per capita consumption. Overall, the space required is regrettably the highest where UA is most needed, i.e., in more food insecure countries. We also show that smaller urban clusters (i.e., <100 km2 each) together represent about two thirds of the global urban extent; thus UA discourse and policies should not focus on large cities exclusively, but should also target smaller urban areas that offer the greatest potential in terms of physical space.",
keywords = "area required, food security, global vegetable demand, urban agriculture, urban land use",
author = "F. Martellozzo and Landry, {J. S.} and D. Plouffe and V. Seufert and P. Rowhani and N. Ramankutty",
year = "2014",
month = "6",
day = "1",
doi = "10.1088/1748-9326/9/6/064025",
language = "English",
volume = "9",
journal = "Environmental Research Letters",
issn = "1748-9326",
publisher = "IOP Publishing Ltd.",
number = "6",

}

Urban agriculture : A global analysis of the space constraint to meet urban vegetable demand. / Martellozzo, F.; Landry, J. S.; Plouffe, D.; Seufert, V.; Rowhani, P.; Ramankutty, N.

In: Environmental Research Letters, Vol. 9, No. 6, 064025, 01.06.2014.

Research output: Contribution to JournalArticleAcademicpeer-review

TY - JOUR

T1 - Urban agriculture

T2 - A global analysis of the space constraint to meet urban vegetable demand

AU - Martellozzo, F.

AU - Landry, J. S.

AU - Plouffe, D.

AU - Seufert, V.

AU - Rowhani, P.

AU - Ramankutty, N.

PY - 2014/6/1

Y1 - 2014/6/1

N2 - Urban agriculture (UA) has been drawing a lot of attention recently for several reasons: the majority of the world population has shifted from living in rural to urban areas; the environmental impact of agriculture is a matter of rising concern; and food insecurity, especially the accessibility of food, remains a major challenge. UA has often been proposed as a solution to some of these issues, for example by producing food in places where population density is highest, reducing transportation costs, connecting people directly to food systems and using urban areas efficiently. However, to date no study has examined how much food could actually be produced in urban areas at the global scale. Here we use a simple approach, based on different global-scale datasets, to assess to what extent UA is constrained by the existing amount of urban space. Our results suggest that UA would require roughly one third of the total global urban area to meet the global vegetable consumption of urban dwellers. This estimate does not consider how much urban area may actually be suitable and available for UA, which likely varies substantially around the world and according to the type of UA performed. Further, this global average value masks variations of more than two orders of magnitude among individual countries. The variations in the space required across countries derive mostly from variations in urban population density, and much less from variations in yields or per capita consumption. Overall, the space required is regrettably the highest where UA is most needed, i.e., in more food insecure countries. We also show that smaller urban clusters (i.e., <100 km2 each) together represent about two thirds of the global urban extent; thus UA discourse and policies should not focus on large cities exclusively, but should also target smaller urban areas that offer the greatest potential in terms of physical space.

AB - Urban agriculture (UA) has been drawing a lot of attention recently for several reasons: the majority of the world population has shifted from living in rural to urban areas; the environmental impact of agriculture is a matter of rising concern; and food insecurity, especially the accessibility of food, remains a major challenge. UA has often been proposed as a solution to some of these issues, for example by producing food in places where population density is highest, reducing transportation costs, connecting people directly to food systems and using urban areas efficiently. However, to date no study has examined how much food could actually be produced in urban areas at the global scale. Here we use a simple approach, based on different global-scale datasets, to assess to what extent UA is constrained by the existing amount of urban space. Our results suggest that UA would require roughly one third of the total global urban area to meet the global vegetable consumption of urban dwellers. This estimate does not consider how much urban area may actually be suitable and available for UA, which likely varies substantially around the world and according to the type of UA performed. Further, this global average value masks variations of more than two orders of magnitude among individual countries. The variations in the space required across countries derive mostly from variations in urban population density, and much less from variations in yields or per capita consumption. Overall, the space required is regrettably the highest where UA is most needed, i.e., in more food insecure countries. We also show that smaller urban clusters (i.e., <100 km2 each) together represent about two thirds of the global urban extent; thus UA discourse and policies should not focus on large cities exclusively, but should also target smaller urban areas that offer the greatest potential in terms of physical space.

KW - area required

KW - food security

KW - global vegetable demand

KW - urban agriculture

KW - urban land use

UR - http://www.scopus.com/inward/record.url?scp=84903648129&partnerID=8YFLogxK

UR - http://www.scopus.com/inward/citedby.url?scp=84903648129&partnerID=8YFLogxK

U2 - 10.1088/1748-9326/9/6/064025

DO - 10.1088/1748-9326/9/6/064025

M3 - Article

VL - 9

JO - Environmental Research Letters

JF - Environmental Research Letters

SN - 1748-9326

IS - 6

M1 - 064025

ER -