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Environmental management of urban farming and water quality: implications for food security.

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Urban farming, in its small scale comprises of various production systems and practices that can lead to poor soil conditions, water pollution and the extension of climate change impacts. Moreover, smallholder farmers are in turn challenged by climate change impacts including heavy rainfall, high temperatures, hailstorms and pests exacerbated by the lack of knowledge, institutional support, governance framework, limited financial resources and technology. As a result, farmers are vulnerable to urban farming and environmental risks that affect the farmers’ food and nutrition security. On the other hand, if done well, urban farming (UF) can benefit the urban environment through flood water mitigation, water infiltration and greening of the environment, while improving food security. The study was conducted in the communities of Sobantu, Sweetwaters and Mpophomeni, in KwaZulu-Natal. This study employed a mixedmethods research approach, which combines quantitative and qualitative analysis. The quantitative approach used a survey questionnaire to elicit responses from 78 urban and periurban smallholder farmers who were purposefully selected to participate in the study. Focus group discussions and field observations were used to collect in-depth qualitative data about the challenges urban farmers faced in urban farming. Additionally, the logit regression model was used to identify factors that influence the farmers adoption of urban farming management practices. The study revealed that the majority of the farmers were faced with environmental problems including poor soil conditions, water quality and access problems and climate change impacts, of which had an impact on crop yield and farm profit. Furthermore, results showed that 69.2% of farmers were aware of the environmental implications of urban farming. However, it was found that due to the farmers limited financial resources, farmers identified urban farming mainly as a source of income and a strategy to obtain extra food and less for the benefit of the environment. The study found that market availability (p=0.003), training on soil management (p=0.0011) and access to credit (p=0.097) were significant factors in the adoption of urban farming practices. The study further revealed that the farmers adoption of urban farming and water quality management practices were challenged by socio-economic and institutional factors such as the lack of knowledge, farmer training, access to markets, access to credit and poor extension support. An environmental management framework was provided to address the challenges that hinder the smallholder farmers adoption of urban farming and water quality management practices.


Masters Degree. University of KwaZulu-Natal, Pietermaritzburg.