I am excited to announce the upcoming Cities and Food Conference taking place at UFV’s Student Union Building next Friday, June 10th. This event will bring together an assortment of industry professionals, government officials, NGOs, partners, students, and more in the discussion of urban agriculture. With keynote speaker, Dr. Alex Awiti of the East Africa Institute at Aga Khan University, a leading expert on food systems and climate change in Africa, as well as moderated panels and break-out sessions, this event is sure to be informative and engaging.

This event will address several topics pertaining to food systems globally, including the question of how secure and sustainable urban food systems can be developed as well as the impact urban planning has on food systems in a rapidly urbanizing world. The video included in this post, Urban Farming: Understanding Urban Food Systems, which will be shown at the Cities and Food Event, describes the benefits of and growing need for farming practices in urban settings with a look into such practices in Nairobi, Kenya and Vancouver, Canada. As East Africa is the most rapidly urbanizing region in the continent, the question of sustainable urban planning practices and food security has become largely relevant to the region. In this video, Jeremy Wagner, a former participant in the Queen Elizabeth II Diamond Jubilee Scholarship program who worked closely with professors at both the University of the Fraser Valley and the East Africa Institute at Aga Khan University, describes the ways in which urban agriculture helps to “close the gap between people and their food” as it allows the individual to become a part of the food procurement system, taking charge of their own needs rather than being subjected to the “highly commodified food culture” and consumerism normally associated with meeting food needs. As well as this, the role of government policies and regulations is examined as, in the past, authorities had used nuisance and public health by-laws in order to prohibit agricultural activities from taking place within the urban areas of Nairobi. Recently, with the passing of new legislation, The Nairobi City County Urban Agriculture Promotion and Regulation Bill, which, among other goals, hopes to integrate urban agricultural land use methods into urban planning and regulate environmental impacts, urban farmers in the area may now practice their activities on a legal platform. With urbanization spreading rapidly throughout the world and food prices on the rise, urban agriculture could provide many solutions to food insecurity issues both at home and abroad.

For more information on matters such as these, attend the Cities and Food Conference at UFV next week (register here: http://events.ufv.ca/events/cities-and-food-conference/ ) and check out the internship opportunities available with UFV and the Queen Elizabeth Scholarship program (follow this link for more information: https://ufveastafricainternships.com ).

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