Harare — THE Urban Agriculture Stakeholders' Forum has urged urban local authorities to devise urban agriculture policies that promote food "sovereignty" in the face of escalating food prices and shortages.
The local authorities have also been urged to establish departments dedicated to the management of urban farming.
Chairman of the forum Mr Zunde Makhuza yesterday said urban councils were key to achieving food sustainability through the promotion of
friendly and practical urban farming policies. Mr Makhuza's call was made during the forum's monthly meeting in Harare.
Bulawayo is the only local authority in Zimbabwe that has an urban farming policy but it is still to be operational.
"We urge urban councils to have policies that promote food production. We have to fight food shortages and rising food prices by achieving what we now term food sovereignty," said Mr Makhuza.
He said Government should also urge the councils to reserve land for urban farming in their land use planning.
Mr Makhuza said the policy should include specifics on building designs such as the inclusion of granaries and the banning of conical buildings.
"We need flat-roofed buildings that can allow for the planting of herbs, vegetables and other food crops", he said. Mr Makhuza said residents of cities and towns who live in apartments and lodgers without enough space should be encouraged to practice container farming.
He said the proliferation of housing co-operatives resulted in the shrinking of land for urban
farming, hence some of the food shortages faced in the country.
Mr Percy Toriro of the Municipal Development Partnership said the policy would ensure continuity of urban farming should there be a change of guard at any local authority.
He gave examples in Harare of different mayors who either supported or discouraged urban farming.
Mr Toriro said during the tenure of the now late Cde Solomon Tawengwa urban farmers who were supported with seed packs and fertilizers
were able to sell their produce to the Grain Marketing Board.
Ms Makanatsa Makonese from Zimbabwe Environmental Law Association said it was also prudent to have whole departments dedicated to the promotion of urban agriculture.