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UFiSAMo: Urban Agriculture for Food Security and Income Generation in South Africa and Mozambique (2016-2019)

The BMEL/BLE-funded research project UFISAMO worked for three years on urban agriculture in Southern Africa in order to research on urban agriculture's potential to improve food and nutrition security and as a possible income option for vulnerable urban groups, exemplified by the cities of Maputo/Mozambique and Cape Town/South Africa.

Aim: The project dealt with the role of urban agriculture for vulnerable groups in Cape Town and Maputo, focusing on food and nutrition security and possible income generation. The aim of the project was to identify good practices and to discuss and put into practice some research results with local partners.

The project was structured into the following work packages:

1. Description and analysis of urban agricultural production systems along the existing value chains in Maputo and Cape Town as well as studies of consumer behaviour and consumption habits.

2. Analysis of potentials and challenges of urban, small-scale horticulture and animal production. The focus was on production systems, seed availability, as well as nutrient and crop protection management.

3. Establish and expand a network for research and training in the field of urban agriculture. For this purpose, the project worked on the transfer of knowledge between the partners, the development of curricula for courses on urban agriculture for the university in Maputo as well as the preparation of training manuals.

4. Analysis of innovation in urban agriculture, as well as the organisational forms of farmers. This included an analysis of dissemination strategies and knowledge transfer in the field of urban agriculture, as well as the identification of media adapted to the respective target groups.
After more than three years of research, the UFISAMO project can point to the following key results.


The role of urban agriculture for income generation and food and nutrition security depends strongly on the historical, political, economic and social context.

-    Urban agriculture in Maputo is the main source of income for a relevant proportion of the population. In addition, the cultivation of various horticultural products contributes to a more balanced diet for the producing families: More than 10.000 people and their families (equivalent to almost 5% of Maputo’s population) earn directly from agricultural production in the city. However, for 70% of the farmers, the income they generate does not cover the monthly food basket compiled by the ministry of health and costing 3.500 MZN/month.

-     They produce almost exclusively the highly demanded cabbage and lettuce in several production cycles per year. They are grown in pure cultures with inadequate crop rotation, which promotes massive pest infestation. Pests and diseases are countered with the unregulated use of pesticides, some of which are banned. Lettuce and cabbage of the urban fields thus bears the risk of being contaminated.

-    As a legacy of the socialist era, the majority of these producers are organised in associations. The associations, however, do not exploit their potential for marketing products, regulating the use of pesticides or disseminating innovation.

-    The city government supports urban agriculture and plans to protect it in the future, as the economic segment creates income opportunities for other professions such as middlemen and market sellers.

-    An estimated 80% of the population of the districts bordering the production area "green zones" cultivates home gardens with more diversified crops than on the association fields. The products of these kitchen gardens are used for home consumption and small-scale sales, and contribute to the nutrition diversity of the producing families.

-    UFISAMO recommends to continue supporting and protecting urban agriculture in Maputo. In the long run, city officials, supporting NGOs and associations should promote a diversification of production systems in the "green zones" to reduce pest pressure and the utilisation of pesticides. A switch to organic or agro-ecological methods is recommended to limit the risk of contaminated crops and to establish higher priced niche markets for quality products. This, however, requires a marketing campaign for "organic products". Such a campaign can be developed in cooperation between the associations, the city administration and NGOs.

-    Urban agriculture practised in the so-called townships of Cape Town on small plots with sandy soils, plays a negligible role for income and food and nutrition security of Cape Town.

-    This is due, among other things, to the low market connections within the townships and the difficult marketing routes to the city centre, which are usually organised by NGOs or "social businesses".

-    However, both backyard and market gardens offer producers the opportunity to earn a meagre income and to produce vegetables they consume themselves - in districts with an official unemployment rate of over 40%, these are not insignificant contributions to the household budget, even if expenses for the gardens sometimes surpass the income generated.

-    In addition, the gardens and their surrounding structures (e.g. training centres) offer the possibility of networking, self-organisation and joint action. They are thus sites with high social potential, which is highly appreciated by farmers. In the context of post-apartheid, opportunities to bridge social divides and to work together for better living conditions and a better living environment are of great importance - one opportunity: through food and farming.

-    UFISAMO recommends to continue promoting urban agriculture despite its negligible contributions to food and nutrition security and income. The social potential of the activity is relevant, and we do see potentials for greater economic benefits for the producers. The focus of our recommendations here is on improving direct marketing in the townships. This requires a stronger self-organisation, but also more "business thinking", from production plans to post-harvest. NGOs, which play an important role in knowledge transfer, should offer more business training and promote independent marketing by producers. Cape Town is already regularly affected by droughts, most recently in 2017/18. Cultivation methods for water-scarce regions must be spread more widely, including long-term soil development, mulching, wind breaks, etc. In order to invest in these activities or structures, however, producers need long-term land use rights, which are currently not granted to them despite the city's former urban agriculture policy. 

In the course of the project, the following central products were developed:

- Closing report of the overall project
- Training manuals for both cities: 

Training Farmers Manual Cape Town 2019

Training Farmers Manual Mozambique 2019

- SLE Report on Perspectives of Urban Agriculture (Cooperation Project 2018)

- Final Report: Farming in cities: Potentials and challenges of urban agriculture in Maputo and Cape Town

-    Policy Briefing Paper:

     Briefing Paper Ufisamo 2019 Cape Town (English)

     Briefing Paper Ufisamo 2019 Maputo (Portuguese), 

     Briefing Paper Value Chains 2017 (German)

urbanGAPs Guidelines Kapstadt

- Documentaries

- A module on urban agriculture was offered in a master course at UEM in Maputo

A complete collection of UFISAMO products can be found on research gate.



Cape Town's Food System through the Eyes of the Farmers: From Co-Research to Urban Agriculture Forum


These videos were developed and produced by farmers in a participative video project.

Project Management and Contact: Centre for Rural Development (SLE): Humboldt-Universität zu Berlin, Faculty of Life Sciences, Albrecht Daniel Thaer-Institut für Agrar- und Gartenbauwissenschaften (ADTI)

Dr. Karin Fiege (SLE, bis 02/2019), Dr. Susanne Neubert (SLE), Erik Engel (FFG - Koordination, This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.)

Research Team: Doreen Sparborth (FFG), Diana Meemken (FUB), Nicole Paganini (SLE), Anja Schelchen (SLE), Anja Kühn (SLE), Severin Halder (SLE), Samuel Quive (UEM), Ivo Cumbana (UEM), Luisa Chicamisse (UEM), Filomena Dos Anjos (UEM), Alberto Luiz (Abiodes), Alzira Mahalambe (Abiodes), Razack Karriem (UWC), Daniel Tevera (UWC), Tinashe Kanosvamhira (UWC), Abongile Mfaku (UWC), Zayaan Khan, Urban Research Farmer Group Cape Town

Students support: Jennifer Koppelin (SLE)
Administration: Julia Müller (SLE)

Partner in Germany:
Centre for Rural Development (SLE),  Frankenförder Forschungsgesellschaft (FFG mbH), Freie Universität Berlin (FUB), Fachbereich Veterinärmedizin, Institut für Fleischhygiene und-technologien

Mozambique: University Eduardo Mondlane (UEM), Maputo, Institut for Veterniary Studies, Institute for Social Science, NGO ABIODES (from 2018 onwards), Technical Secretariat for Food Security and Nutrition – SETSAN Maputo (until 2018)

South Africa: University of the Western Cape (UWC), Department of Geography & Environmental Studies, Department of Social Development, Cape Town, until beginning of 2019 the non-governmental organisation Abalimi Bezekhaya

Project timeframe: March 2016 – September 2019



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