The Public Relations Officer for the Freetown Urban and Peri Urban Project (FUPA) Mr Richard Bockarie has told journalists that Freetown Agriculture was important as it contributes to the livelihood of various homes.
Mr Bockarie explained that Freetown has been highly urbanized as the population has increased from 5.87% in 1963 to 15.53% in 2004.
He linked the almost three times increase in Freetown’s population to the rebel war, unemployment and many other factors which have hitherto led to urban food demand increasing.
Bockarie stated that most of the rural migrants in to the city have strong agricultural background of which 80% of that number are women who are using agriculture as their main source of livelihood.
Most of what the urban agriculturists are involved in, Mr Bockarie said are in crop production, mainly leafy vegetables such as sweet potato leaves, cassava leaves, greens, krain- krain, garden eggs and okra.
He said they are also involved in livestock production both on commercial and backyard level with floriculture (flower) also undertaken.
Mr Bockarie disclosed that FUPA undertook a study about Freetown’s agriculture and found out that land was very important for its development. This he said is because the preference or priority for land in Freetown is given for the building of residences moreso since most of the lands are owned by the state.
The FUPA PRO pointed out that the resource center for Urban Agriculture and Food Security have since initiated the practice of flood control, land reclamation and city greening for the development of urban agriculture.
Identifying some of the problems faced by urban agriculture, Mr Bockarie highlighted the lack of agricultural policy for urban areas in the country and the consideration of it by urbanites as a nuisance and a health hazard. He also mentioned the unavailability of water for crops irrigation and livestock watering, pest infestation coupled with high cost of pesticides and lack of agricultural inputs for farmers.
FUPA’s main objective he said is to facilitate the development and integration of urban agriculture in to the development programmes of city authorities and development agencies.