Cities and towns are growing at a tremendous rate and in fact, the United Nations in 2018 said that by 2050, 68 percent of the world population will have been projected to live in urban areas. Even in India, only over 28 per cent made for urban population in 2001 census however, it increased to a whopping 34 per cent in the year 2017.
While the environmental impact of the growing urban population is a no-brainer, another major concern also lies ahead – food security. Inadequate access to nutritious food poses a major challenge for millions of people. In a developing country like India where a majority share of vegetables in our country come from rural farming, rapid urbanisation and add to that, the pandemic outbreak have had a severe impact on agriculture which can possibly have a domino effect. With that said, isn’t urban farming the need of the hour? Where the population is escalating posing risks against food security, it can help cities become self-sufficient and meet the food demands at regional or community level at least.
The best part is that vertical farming – whether it is soil-based or hydroponics, consume less space and 90 per cent less water than conventional outdoor farms because of which it can be done all year long, irrespective of the season. Moreover, since fresh vegetables can be supplied to the city dwellers within a few hours, it also curbs the use of pesticides that has been one of our major food concerns in today’s times. With the tech-savvy world that we live in, analysis of the environmental and growth parameters of indoor crops can be easily determined which can in turn be harnessed for maximising our input for better produce.
While the idea of urban farming may be relatively new in India, several nations have already started exporting indoor farm produce. However, there have been start-ups emerging in the recent times that have stepped up in offering infrastructural support for urban farming. Even in testing times like today, some start-ups have been doing soil-less indoor farming with just a handful of people to manage it. Others are developing technology to facilitate a more convenient urban farming that demands lean operation. With the right support from government and other sectors, urban farming can reach new heights in India.