Arab Models of Urban Agriculture:

The Environment and Sustainable Development Unit (ESDU) of the American University in Beirut, together with the RUAF Foundation- Global partnership on Urban Agriculture and Food Systems, have promoted multi-stakeholder action planning and policy formulation (MPAP) on urban agriculture and food security in Amman and Saana , where national and local authorities cooperate with citizens, farmers and civic organisations and private sector companies in the preparation,   implementation and evaluation of related policies and action plans.

Based on an exploratory study on urban agriculture[1] and stakeholder identification, a multi-stakeholder forum (MSF) was set up in both cities that jointly established a City Strategic Agenda (CSA) to support the sustainable development of urban agriculture.

In Amman, in 2009, the Greater Amman Municipality took the initiative to establish a specialised office of urban agriculture and committed since (2009 till date) human and financial resources to implementation of the Agenda and urban agriculture institutionalisation.  Implementation of pilot projects include support to home-gardens and small productive projects on rooftops in slums. The city established a land bank for urban agriculture after mapping vacant land areas available in the city region.  Another pilot project supported a local women’s cooperative to improve the production, processing and marketing of selected crops such as green leafy vegetables. Agricultural lending institutions have recognised urban farmers as beneficiaries, allowing them new opportunities to access small loans. The Agricultural Extension Department of the Ministry of Agriculture provides training and in-kind support services to urban and peri-urban producers. Wastewater recycling and rainwater harvesting is promoted. Following intervention by the Oman’s Institute urban agriculture has been included as part of Prime greening and re-classification of land initiatives.

In Sanaa, the Yemen Association Sustainable Agriculture Development (YASAD), similarly developed a participatory plan in cooperation with the Municipality of Sanaa, represented by the General Administration of Parks and the Office of Agriculture and other stakeholders. They are working on the re-formulation of laws and regulations to maintain agricultural activities and promote (secure) access to land, especially those used for grazing.

Since 2000, many of the local agricultural societies in the Gaza Strip have become interested in approaches and practices of urban agriculture. Home gardens, rooftop gardens, aquaponics, and agro-tourism have been promoted by organisations such as the Agricultural Development Association (PARC), the Agricultural Work Committees (UAWC), MAAN Center, PHG etc.. in collaboration with different international agencies.

Since 2014, Oxfam and the RUAF Foundation implement a three-year project ‘Facilitating Urban and Peri-urban Agriculture in Gaza’ funded by the Swiss Agency for Development and Cooperation (SDC). The project promotes development of local value chains for specific food products (dates and dairy). This project also advocates a participatory development approaches which build on and empower existing initiatives and experiences. It seeks to promote resilience, rights and dignity of the Palestinian people and sovereignty over its resources.

Project experiences can be further strengthened and up-scaled to develop the urban agriculture sector as a real strategy for enhancing sustainable and resilient development for the urbanised Gaza Strip. In doing so, it can build on other engagement in the sector, as described below.

[1] See for Amman: http://www.ruaf.org/sites/default/files/Exploratory%20studyurban%20agriculture%20Amman%20%28arabic%29.pdf and for Saana: http://www.ruaf.org/sites/default/files/Urban%20agriculture%20policy%20brief%20Sana%27a%20Yemen%20%28arabic%29.pdf