Monday, June 20, 2011

Urban Garden Project in the DR Congo Proves Successful

Since 2000, the Ministry of Rural Development has implemented an urban horticulture program in the Democratic Republic of the Congo (DRC). The plan cost $10.4 million and was financed by Belgium. The program has assisted urban growers in 5 cities, and has seen great results.

Successes include, the cities more than doubling their vegetable output, turning profits, increasing nutrition, and employing thousands of people. Some of those employed made four or five times what they made previously. The five cities now produce 330,000 tons of vegetables annually, up from 148,000 in 2005-2006. More than 250,000 tons of vegetables are sold in markets and supermarkets, creating a surplus value of about $400 million.

The United Nations Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO) said this program was a model to help other cities grow crops and see improvement in health and income. Cities are becoming more populated than rural areas, and the fastest growing cities are in the developing world. Because of this, urban areas are important to focus on when addressing nutrition and food security.

This program shows that success is possible. The next step is to scale-up production and expand the program.

-Sami Ressler