Municipal Institute Of LearningMILE - Municipal Institute Of Learning
Urban agriculture as a collective responsibility
At our 2013 eThekwini- University Research Symposium, the Deputy Mayor, Councillor Nomvuzo Shabalala drew the attention of a grouping of academics and city officials towards the city’s food securing challenge. The conversation focussed on what the city was doing in response to the challenge and the piloting of food gardens , the roll out of agri-hubs and experimentation of aqua-ponics. Academics from our partnering institutions had shown a deep interest in the subject matter. It was in this context that MILE was tasked with taking the discussions forward with city officials and academic experts in the area. 

As part of the city’s collaborative relationship with academia, the discussions were directed  as part of a theme within the Built Environment Seminar Series as it provides a platform for constructive engagement between city practitioners and academics.

MILE, in partnership with the City’s Economic Development & Promotions Unit (EDEPU) as well as Infrastructure Management Unit (IMU) agreed that the Northdene Agro- Ecology Research Development Centre would be a suitable site for the 10th Built Environment Seminar on Urban Agriculture and Food Security.

One of the key objectives of the seminar was to enlist academic support for research outputs linked to urban agriculture in general and aqua-ponics in particular.

During the site visit participants were left in awe after experiencing first-hand how aqua-ponics works at the centre. Aqua-ponics is a system used by famers whereby fish waste is used to fertilize and grow vegetables and other plants in agriculture projects. According to the keynote speaker, eThekwini Municipality’s, Geoff Griffith’s, vegetables grow 30% faster in aqua-ponics systems than tradition agricultural farming. Prof. Ndlazi, a panellist, expressed emphasis on the bond between MUT and eThekwini when she informed the audience that her students were now emerging farmers linked to the Umbumbulu Agri- Hub on the South Coast. Dr S. O Donoghue, from the municipality cautioned participants that there were climate change considerations to food security and highlighted the city’s strategy in this regard. 

A delegation from Delhi under the leadership of Prof. V. Soni and international post graduate students from Utrecht cited relevant case studies from which the city could draw valuable lessons. Academia together with city officials discussed the way forward in addressing the urban agricultural challenge and the potential for technical collaboration and joint research programs. An action list was created at the session as an output to continue further discussions, inform a strategy and actions from the city to collectively respond to the challenge facing Durban.
To download the presentations from the seminar, click here.
To watch the video of Arjun Bhagat Speaking to Prof. Vikram Soni on his idea of using Natural Floodplain Recharge to meet rising water demands of Indian Cities, click here.

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