The proposal to turn some of Cape Town’s last remaining farmland over to urban development would be an irreversible loss of agricultural assets and a threat to the food security of the city’s economically vulnerable population, as Tamsin Faragher warns.
The City of Cape Town recently decided to approve a proposal to move its “urban edge” — the lines drawn around the city’s built-up areas within which urban development is allowed — so as to reincorporate 300 hectares of productive farmland and make it available for development.
The farmland under discussion is in the Philippi Horticultural Area (PHA) to the southeast of the city, sometimes referred to as “Cape Town’s Pantry”. Perched on top of the high water table of the valuable Cape Flats Aquifer, the area has historically contributed a large portion of the city’s fresh produce. The ready access to markets makes the produce grown in this area more affordable to the staggeringly large community of those living on and below the poverty line.
The City’s decision means that these agricultural activities will be pushed farther away from these important consumers, increasing the price of produce as higher transport costs are incurred. Combined with the loss of agricultural jobs from the area, the impacts on a largely economically vulnerable population will be profound.
– Article by Tamsin Faragher
– Photo courtesy of Ute Kuhlmann.