This paper makes the case that formalizing the promotion, growth, and enhancement of small-scale urban food farming is a direct and nutritionally, financially, socially, technologically, and sociably sensible way to foster food security and sustainable national development. Given the advantages it offers, urban food production should be included as a part of agricultural development programs, even though planners and politicians do not fully understand it. Urban food growing vegetables would seem to support a wide range of other environmental and societal objectives in addition to almost all of the widely held development objectives of enhanced income and industrial growth, creating jobs, income distribution of electricity, the satisfaction of basic necessities, and value creation of self-sufficiency. Home food growing has traditionally been an essential aspect of living on Pacific islands, and urban food growing is now an essential component of urban life on Pacific islands.
In the majority of Pacific Island nations, land has been converted from sustenance to advertising culturally homogeneous agricultural use or from both subsistence purposes agriculture to urban use leading to an immediate increase in the population, rapid urbanization, commercialization, privatization, and market liberalization. It is also connected with the aggressive increase of commercial monoculture, commercial animal agriculture, and other urban-industrial operations like mineral extraction, wood milling, commercial fishing, and tourism. Urban food composting and “urbanized” small-scale or apartment yard farming in rural and peri-urban areas have gained more meaning in the field of the evolving Pacific Islands (Iese, Holland, Wairiu, Havea, Patolo, Nishi & Waqainabete, 2018). It happened due to the growth of urban centers and rising population spatial distribution, especially in low and squatter territories.
The repercussions of global warming, along with more frequent and extreme natural catastrophes like cyclones, floods, and land droughts, are particularly sensitive to countries due to their distinct geophysical elements as well as social, economic, and unique cultural aspects. Small islands are among the nations that are most susceptible to the adverse effects of climate change. It is evident that there are losers and winners in terms of climate and food security, with small island nations in the Pacific that live in warmer regions, such as the tropics, poised to lose the most from global warming (Thaman, 1995). There is no doubt that climate change is occurring and that it might get worse in the future; immediate action is needed to lessen these effects.
This study examines the economic, social, and agricultural issues associated with family farming in small island countries. The study will not cover the ways of growing food as well as the standard features of the region. This document was written to analyze and explore the possibilities for small island countries to encourage family farming in order to achieve food security.
Limitations and Scoping
Peer-reviewed publications, as well as other academic research, including reports, government publications, and dissertations, are included in this scoping study. Considerations have been given to books, news stories, and editor opinion columns. Mixed techniques, qualitative, and quantitative study types are all covered. For this evaluation, only works written in English were taken into consideration. This evaluation solely takes the information on agricultural feed ingredients like vegetables and fruits into account because the emphasis is on smallholder producers and food security.
It is thought that the survey did not adequately capture the food consumed away from home in metropolitan regions, and as a result, figures in urban areas are underreported. On the other hand, it is thought that the essential food intake in rural regions was overstated. It is possible that some families recorded the amount collected rather than the amount is eaten. At the national level, it may be argued that these estimating errors, both under and over, are balanced out by the average consumption of a typical representative Samoan (Nathalie Troubat & Aliyeva, 2020). The median at the sub-regional level may, however, be overestimated or underestimated. Because of this, numbers that mention the average or proportion of the population are never presented at the sub-regional level. Various units of measurement were used to collect the food quantities, and some conversions were not accessible. Some food goods’ descriptions were not always accurately documented or tagged. The last two rounds showed a decline in records recorded in the diary, indicating the influence of enumerators’ exhaustion.
The first attempt at data extraction utilized a prototype form that was based on Renzaho and Mellor’s four pillars of food security: food availability, access to food, household food, and asset generation. The data from the Pacific Islands, where investigations were frequently of a technical character dealing with practice and did not analytically match the categories above, did not totally suit these categories, despite the fact that they were a helpful starting point.
Regrettably, the majority of the managerial elite in the Pacific Islands presently either struggle to understand the value of urban food gardening or are determined to ignore it because it is not seen as providing the same political traction or grabbing the same consideration on a worldwide stage as more spectacular disaster response, food assistance programs, or massive development initiatives. Urban industry, tourism, and industrial agriculture development projects all lack the support of “operational entrepreneurs,” much like urban food gardening (Georgeou, Hawksley, Wali, Lountain, Rowe, West & Barratt, 2022). Finally, due to the current concentration on urban- and white-collar-based proper educational instruction, very few members of the urban elite who are considered “educated” comprehend the nature and crucial developmental value of urban food gardens. It might be claimed that if urban food gardening is not promoted with greater attention, existing trends will worsen and cause even more “food insecurity.”
House Yard Food Gardening
Urban environments in Pacific island nations frequently include food cultivation in backyards. Even in places like Kiribati and Nauru, which are not known for their agricultural diversity, urban gardens are home to a wide variety of essential root crops, supplemental food plants, tree crops, and innumerable non-food species (Thaman, 1995). The most widespread plants in terms of quantity and total area under development were historically significant root products such as taro, cassava, sweet potato, tannia, and yams, with gigantic taro and giant swamp taro being important in Tonga. It is frequently planted in humid regions such as dishwashing areas, water taps, and drains.
Urban garden systems also need a variety of plants that are utilized for livestock feed, fuel, medicines, fiber, colors, decoration, fragrances, personal care products, shade, and building materials. Given the extraordinarily high and continuously rising costs, as well as the unavailability, abuse, and dubious efficacy of certain imported drugs, medicinal plants, in particular, are a crucial economically and culturally resource (UN, 2022). In urban gardens, sacred or fragrant plants hold a significant amount of significance.
Urbanized Rural Food Gardens
As land scarcity and poor rural earnings make meeting a rural family’s fundamental requirements more challenging, urbanized home yard food gardening is becoming a more significant activity. Such gardens are essential to families that live and work in rural regions but are from other places and do not have access to large tracts of rural property (Siegner, Sowerwine & Acey, 2018). Similar to urban settings, these gardens frequently contain a large variety of primary root crops; however, supplemental non-tree and tree crops are more prevalent.
Despite the significant significance of urban food gardening in the Pacific Islands, there are also other issues. The adverse weather, poor soils, the expense and accessibility of land and water, a lack of time and work, theft, and a lack of government aid are the most frequently noted. Urban gardeners often struggle with poor, unproductive soils, including the highly underdeveloped rocky or stony lithosols. Most localities struggle with a lack of land and a lack of security of tenure; for instance, in Suva, more than half of all families cite a lack of land as an issue. Urban gardening, the establishment and preservation of trees, and other long-term crops appear to be significantly hindered by the insecurity of tenure, as many individuals have short-term contracts or are insurgents.
Policy and Institutions
Governments might legislate urban food growing on empty and underdeveloped property in urban and rural regions, legitimizing it and encouraging it rather than discouraging it. In areas where this is a concern, legislation should be passed in addition to other efforts to determine the best ways to reduce theft from urban gardens. Planning and housing commissions should think about adding space for urban gardening in all residential development. In high-density, multi-unit building zones where residents cannot access arable land, urban agriculture or urban garden reserves might be formed. All residential and rehabilitation facilities have to incorporate garden reserve funds and hybrid urban gardening initiatives. Large organizations, governmental agencies, and even small businesses should promote tree planting in employee or industrial gardens.
The achievement of establishing food security and nutrition will be mainly determined by the creation of an enabling environment. The difficulty lies in putting into practice effective and efficient problem-solving strategies in a manner that is considered legitimate by the stakeholders in, facilitated by, or otherwise directly impacted by the decisions made by any governing structure or military dictatorship, as well as in developing and enhancing the capabilities of institutional arrangements in accordance with priorities.
Small island developing governments are far from markets, which hampers export-led growth and points to the need to concentrate on prospects that are less influenced by geographic constraints. Small-scale farming relies principally on family labor. Improvements in agricultural technology and commercial agriculture have received little funding. As a result, agriculture has challenges in export markets and is comparatively less competitive than imports. The challenge is to help a significant number of semi-subsistence farmers transition to more commercially oriented output through continuous access to competitive markets in order to increase food security and enhance lives in the region.
There are several opportunities for agriculture to return to domestic markets in order to boost rural development, nutrition, and food security; urbanization is favoring this process. To satisfy the essential requirements for quality and consistency, it is necessary to identify and realize the true growing market potential in domestic markets, including tourism markets, as well as to build manufacturing, processing, and marketing abilities (Lucantoni, 2020). In this situation, intraregional markets also provide a chance since they facilitate a quicker shift to new production patterns that can boost equity.
Increasing the production of traditional staple foods, including roots and tubers, plantains, and breadfruits, has the capability to reduce food imports and promote economic growth. Research and extension efforts are made to support the value chains of traditional staple food crops in order to boost production, on-farm productivity, and processing effectiveness. Tropical fruits are another subsector, particularly in nations with a substantial tourist influx. Increased employment and earnings will improve lives and food security in the agricultural sector, as well as enhancements in marketing, processing, and support programs.
Agriculture needs social protection since it may ease financial restrictions and allow for changes in productive activity. Consequently, it may enable the accumulation of productive assets or assist farmers in implementing new technologies and crops. Moreover, having insurance offers homes a more robust defense against dangers and surprises (O’Hara & Toussaint, 2021). This aids smallholders in preventing distressed sales of productive assets and the early sale of agricultural products. It may also make it easier for them to diversify into other livestock, crops, or aquaculture.
These elements may result in both more dynamic and effective agriculture industry and enhanced family resilience. To optimize synergies, social protection policymakers must collaborate with those in the agricultural and natural resource sectors. This is emphasized in the report on natural resources and the environment when it comes to the preservation of essential ecosystems, such as coral reefs, which serve as safety nets in times of need.
By boosting social capital, enhancing a sense of belonging, and halting the outflow from rural places, young people maintain a sense of continuity in rural society. Young people have few options for gainful and respectable work in rural agricultural and non-farm sectors. As a result, a lot of young farmers leave farming and rural regions to go to metropolitan areas, either domestically or internationally. Improving food income and stability well-being in the medium and long term requires engaging young people in agriculture and increasing assistance for farmers.
The leading causes of hunger, food insecurity, and malnutrition are lack of physical and financial access to the resources required to acquire enough food and consume a diet that is nutritionally appropriate. The solution to governance concerns requires a multidisciplinary, cross-cutting approach. The establishment of an enabling environment is essential, as is boosting the capabilities of the organizations in charge of disseminating data on food security and nutrition and consolidating unified information systems. The primary sector, notably agrifood value chains with recognized market opportunities, needs more public collaboration and focused investments.
Multiple-level collaborations will help create a supportive atmosphere that improves nutrition and food security. Policy, financial, and institutional structures may all be more closely aligned to produce this climate. Significant gaps in technology and capacity building must be addressed collaboratively in collaboration with international organizations. Small island governments’ primary sector businesses and producers must contend with fierce international and domestic competition. Therefore, there is a pressing need for cooperation between the public and private sectors to enable investments in higher productivity and value chain efficiency required to sustain their share of the market and food production.
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