Food is recognized as a basic human right in the Kenyan constitution. The lack of or inadequate food consumption has serious implications on general body health and well-being, growth and development.
Food insecurity is a threat to overall human well-being, as well as efforts geared toward economic growth and poverty alleviation. The concept of food security is multidimensional, encompassing food availability, affordability, adequacy, safety, and quality.
A food security vulnerability and nutrition assessment conducted by the government of Kenya in 2010 revealed that more than 25 percent of urban children were stunted while 13 percent of urban households had unacceptably low levels of food consumption.
Recent studies by APHRC have shown that up to 50 percent of urban households faced severe food insecurity.
Similarly, a study on the prevalence and depth of hunger in Nairobi conducted in 2011 by Egerton University’s Tegemeo Institute of Agricultural Policy and Development showed that 44 percent of households in Nairobi were undernourished with 20 percent being ultra-hungry, consuming less than 1,600 kilocalories per day, which is less than the minimum dietary energy requirement of 2,133 Kilocalories per adult in a day.
The pace of urbanization is quickening, currently estimated at about 4.3 percent compared to an annual rate of national population growth of 2.6 percent.
It is certain that the future of urban and it will demand more food resources for a growing urban population. This must also be viewed against the backdrop of expanding rural populations, pressure on arable land from competing demands for settlement as well as the impacts of climate change on soil water and vegetation resources in the rural food source areas.
According to the Aga Khan University Urban Farmers Handbook, Urban agriculture is the raising, cultivating, processing, marketing and distributing of food and food-based products in a town, city or metropolitan area.
Over the last decade or so, urban agriculture has grown extensively and has begun addressing issues related to income inequality, nutrition and the rapid development of our cities. It and in closing the gap, between people and their food, allowing more consumer involvement beyond just purchasing.
The handbook further stated that the need for innovative farming practices increases with the slowing of economic activity. This economic decline, coupled with the 150 percent increase in staple food prices in Nairobi’s informal markets, has left much to be desired.
As a result, urban farming is becoming a viable business opportunity for urban entrepreneurs ready to take advantage of the demand for high quality, local food. Urban farms are proving to be an effective model for finding value in under-utilized spaces and families who are engaging in urban agriculture practices within these spaces are often able to obtain an affordable, safe, clean and sustainable food supply that promotes savings, employment and with good agricultural practices, income generation.