Feeding Urbanization: Perceptions of Urban Agriculture in Nanjing, China

Thursday, 19 July 2018: 15:45
Oral Presentation
Geoffrey LUEHR, University of Waterloo, Canada
Rapid population growth and urbanization in China are creating profound social, economic, and environmental challenges. Since open-reform in the late 1970s, China has largely remained focused on economic growth, national-scale food security policies, and transitioning to a modern agri-food system. These largely economic focused strategies have resulted in criticisms of China’s food systems and concerns, particularly surrounding food safety and food scandals, have created a level of mistrust among consumers and producers. Therefore, there is a need to re-examine how urban spaces in China are not only being developed but how urban inhabitants are being fed. One promising avenue may be the expansion of urban agriculture, a practice that is seen by many as beneficial to social, economic, and environmental issues in both post-industrial and developing cities. However, China’s urbanization plans have excluded planning policies for agriculture within urban areas. The purpose of this research is to better understand the motivations of residents practicing urban agriculture in the case study city of Nanjing, China. While studies have shown the existence of urban agriculture in China, empirical research on the perceptions and benefits of it is greatly lacking. Using a mixed methodology, this research aims to (1) assess the demographics of those practicing urban agriculture within Nanjing and where it is taking place, (2) identify the types and methods of urban agriculture being used, (3) understand why populations are engaging in small-scale urban agriculture and the perceived benefits of it, and (4) critique the extent to which current, future and past policies have impacted the practice of urban agriculture. Drawing on interview data from farmers, government officials and practitioners, this presentation will discuss the apparent social benefits and the potential future of urban agriculture in Nanjing.