Women in Urban and Peri urban-Agriculture: Sustaining Livelihoods in the Cape Metropolitan Area

by JACOBS, P and XABA, T, 2008
Agenda, 22:78, 186-197

Urban and peri-urban agriculture (UPA) has emerged as one of the responses to multiple livelihood challenges that poorer city dwellers face. Urban women engage in UPA to produce food for their households and increasingly also to earn an income from the sale of surplus output. This article uses evidence from a sample of farming projects around the Cape Metropolitan Area to explore how women participate in UPA, the nature of the constraints that they face and what kind of policy support they need. What the case study evidence shows is that urban women farmers access land primarily through social networking and work collectively. Another crucial result is that almost all projects engage in an in-kind donation of output to schools and HIV/AIDS patients. This social solidarity production forms a core part of UPA in the Cape Metropolitan Area. The smaller number of women-only projects distributed 25% of their output as social responsibility (double the average of all the other projects). This evidence suggests, firstly, that benefits of collective or social solidarity institutions among urban women farmers must be explicitly acknowledged in South Africa’s land and agricultural policies. Secondly, agricultural development support institutions must be tied to solidarity output instead of an exclusive commercial orientation