Document Type

AFSUN Urban Food Security Series

Publication Date



Balsillie School of International Affairs


Optimism about the role of household food production (urban agriculture) in improving the food security of the urban poor has given way to pessimism and even scepticism. This paper critically examines the views of advocates of urban agriculture and suggests that it cannot be isolated from a broader consideration of the changing nature of urban food supply systems in Southern African cities. Urban food production by poor households is currently very limited across the region and even fewer produce for market. While food production is a useful livelihood supplement in some cities and a source of income to some wealthier households, it is not the panacea for food insecurity at the household level. At the same time, it is clear that there are still many obstacles facing households who do produce and sell for market, not least unfavourable regulations and city policies. These need to be addressed to increase the supply and reduce the cost of locally grown food for urban consumers.