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Urban farming in Zimbabwe

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As we now approach the rainy season people are preparing their small pieces of land, or A3s as I heard someone saying, around the suburbs of our cities.

I think this is the right time for the Harare City Council to address this – the earlier the better. The council must have a clear-cut policy on urban agriculture that takes into consideration the need to conserve the environment while acknowledging the contribution urban farming makes towards household food security.

Haphazard urban farming has negatively impacted on the environment and in some instances has affected protected conservancies, forests and wetlands. For example, along Mutare road just after Jaggers or 11 months as it is popularly known, the Cleveland Dam is now exposed and the whole plantation of gum trees and the indigenous trees through to Mabvuku turn-off is now history. So it is time for the city fathers to act and protect this area before it is turned into these A3s again.

Urban agriculture, as part of a poverty reduction strategy, needs to be regulated and areas where it should take place should be well defined according to boundaries. There have been cases where the local authority has clashed with residents over urban agriculture, especially where it concerns maize growing. Some residents have had their maize crop slashed because it was grown on unauthorised land.

The Harare City Council should recognise the role urban farming plays in providing food to families and, as such, it should be promoted and not discouraged as long as it is conducted in a manner that does not impact negatively on the environment.

Therefore the council should put big sign boards up advising that the practice of urban agriculture is not illegal and that it only becomes illegal when it is not authorised, or when it is implemented along stream banks and in protected wetlands. This is the best time for the City Council to make this announcement since people are starting to prepare their fields and clearing their small pieces of land.

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