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Urbanise small-scale farming by changing their locality so that farmers can be closer to their markets.

When a farm moves into the neighbourhood, it becomes a marketplace. Small scale farmers need integration with their consumers not isolation.

Photo of Fayrooz Johnson
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All readers and participants exposed to media globally will reap the benefit of the campaign, especially farmers and prospective farmers as well as anyone who eats.


The idea can be implented anywhere where suitable conditions are present to grow food. Especially South Africa.


  • Yes


  • I’ve worked in a sector related to my idea for over a year


  • Yes, for more than one year.


I am a retired news editor, draughtsperson & owner of an online educational platform. I work with various individuals and groups doing research, writing, designing curriculums for our online courses, creating campaigns and innovating to find solutions.
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My idea is to start a media and educational campaign to stop spoilage, wastage of food and resources by adopting suburban small scale farming as a model for self sustainability. By protecting suburban farms and encouraging the establishment of more such farms, we solve many other problems including employment, poverty and hunger. It keeps the cost of food low and puts it within easy reach of consumers. Cape Town has had farms close to the City for centuries and it still serves the ever burgeoning population well.  

With specific reference to the post Apartheid South African context in farming, the following problems exist in rural areas.

1. Workers receive inadequate remuneration

2. Workers cannot afford decent housing

3. The small-scale farmer has not been fully integrated into the farming community (previous farmers were all white) and so lack social cohesion.

4. The cost of transportation to market places is prohibitive

5. The cost of power supply has escalated to unsustainable proportions making this even more difficult.

The nature of self sustainability

To acquire land solely for the purpose of growing food in the traditional rural area is an insular approach and overlooks the prospect of what an integrated business culture can mean to a small scale farmer. Since small scale farmers have difficulty in becoming self sustainable when located in traditionally rural areas, far away from market places, unable to compete with their larger scale neighbors, growing the same produce, the idea is to decentralize rural small scale farmers and integrate them into suburban farming districts. This only in cases where Environmental Impact Studies recommends.

Within the context of small- scale urban farming communities, social cohesion among farmers and the farming community in general, can make the farm, the marketplace. This will remarkably reduce wastage and spoilage. Therefore it is necessary to consider the general public, food distributors, food retailers as prospective consumers and other farmers as well.

In this instance it is important to ask what services or products can your farm offer to other farmers in addition to the produce you are growing? As well as what social cohesion can your farm offer to the community besides employment, in addition to the produce you are growing?

Also in suburban farming areas workers are within easy reach of their own homes, relieving the farmer of having to provide accommodation.

Case Study

The Phillippi Horticultural Area

The Phillippi Horticultural Area is a suburban small and large scale farming district which also serves as the regeneration zone for a huge underlying aquifer in Cape Town in South Africa. The area produces most of Cape Town’s food requirements and employs some 3000 full time workers. Currently the area has been selected for development despite Environmental Impact Studies advising to the contrary and the worst drought in the country in 30 years. Small scale farmers from Cape Town have joined together and started a lobby to stop the development. Despite a crippling drought throughout the country the PHA has continued to thrive due to its underground water reserves and is in a position to supply other parts of the country.…/cape-aquifer-denials-disinformation-…


Join the conversation:

Photo of Ebrahim

One of the main benefit of having your website would be to enhance communication between all the role-players and simultaneously create a self-sustainable on-line platform for the dissemination of pertinent information and training. Stunning idea ! This enhanced communication web platform or hub has the potential to transform the entire micro-agriculture landscape, not just locally, but internationally.

(1) Small-scale farmers in urban areas can form `on-line` co-operatives, allowing them to speak with one voice and address their issues collectively.
(2) They can receive on-line courses , videos and training through this platform.
(3) Information on access to financing can be provided.
(4) Information on new technologies to reduce post-harvest losses can be disseminated.
(5) Farmers can promote their businesses using the platform and it can even serve as an e-commerce site.
(6) Farmers can be given access to information on how to generate other forms of revenue, for example growing exotic crops for export or even supplying livestock farmers with excess produce.
(7) Rapid transport of crops can be facilitated through a dedicated, on-line courier service or farmers can simply advertise their need for a courier to transport goods on the website.
(8) A database list of cold-storage facilities for short-term rental by farmers can also be established, so as to reduce costs through shared expenses.

The web-site can become self-sustainable through advertising revenue or a nominal subscription, if it is e-commerce enabled, it can also generate revenue through a percentage of on-line sales via PayPal, for example. 

Linking all the role-players using a single, integrated on-line platform is one of the best strategies to solve the problems of post-harvest crop spoilage and losses.  (You can even go the full Monty and have a Facebook, Twitter social media component strategy as well.) Your initiative is surely a step in the right direction !

Photo of Ebrahim

I`ve just discovered that SA has lost 355,000 jobs in the last few months ! Our unemployment rate is closer to 30% than ever before ! We are teetering on a huge socio-economic crises, people will be jobless and even unable to afford basic food. Government interventions have failed dismally and its now up to us to try out new innovative strategies to solve our unemployment problems by presenting micro-agriculture as a viable career option.

The promotion of small scale, organic farming in urban areas is a brilliant suggestion to help solve such huge problem. What is needed, in my very humble opinion, is better communication between all the role-players in order to effect greater change through strength in numbers. This can be in the form of a subscriber-based, on-line register of all current and prospective small-scale, suburban farmers, who can promote their crops via a web-site and also indicate when they have excess produce which can enter the market at a lower price, thus reducing wastage.

I also believe existing farmers should be allowed to rezone their farms for non-agricultural commercial purposes such as manufacturing ( eg of photo-voltaic systems) , creating a win-win situation where manufacturers can basically get large tracts of unused land for lower rentals than usual, farmers can get rental income to off-set any losses in revenue from farming. This will reduce core inflation, reduce food prices etc.

They should also use unused land to build low-cost housing with very low rentals and thus ease our massive housing crisis and the accompanying social nightmare experienced in the urban townships.

Perhaps i`m getting ahead of myself, but the enormous challenges this country is facing is reaching crisis proportions and requires new, innovative thinking.

Photo of Ebrahim

Fantastic idea ! We may also need a database of all these small-scale, suburban farmers and to establish which crops they are cultivating , in order to encourage them to grow different crops and thus create diversity and hence better sustainability for all of them. A strong network of these farmers, co-operating in unison, for the greater good, i.e food security, is just what is needed in these difficult times.

Photo of Fayrooz Johnson

Thanks for the timely reminder! I have uploaded a 3 step plan to make the campaign happen. Agreed we need to get more farmers and would be farmers and environmentalist on board. I really would like to discuss the issue of a more integrative approach to farming as opposed to only being dependent on growing food when there are so many diverse uses for a farm