City Farms in Nairobi


Francis Wachira in a still from the East Africa Institute's video on Urban Farming in Nairobi
East Africa Internship Program

Liz Waid and Adam Navis tell about one way the city of Nairobi is making it easier for people to get food. A new law allows people to raise animals and grow food in the city.

Transcript


Voice 1  

Welcome to Spotlight. I’m Liz Waid.

Voice 2  

And I’m Adam Navis. Spotlight uses a special English method of broadcasting. It is easier for people to understand, no matter where in the world they live.

Voice 1  

What do you think of when you hear the word “farm”? Large machines that harvest crops? Long fields of corn? People standing in water, harvesting rice? Whatever you think, it is probably not the word “rabbit.” This small, soft animal lives mostly in the wild. You probably also do not think of big city buildings. But Kiroko Enterprise farm in Nairobi, Kenya, has both rabbits and city buildings.

Voice 2  

Francis Wachira is the farmer there. He grows many different kinds of vegetables to eat and sell. He also keeps goats for milk and meat. But people in Nairobi call him “the Rabbit King.” That is because he sells rabbits for people to eat. They are a main part of the business. Wachira’s farm is very successful.

Voice 1  

Nairobi is an urban city of more than three million people. It is not the kind of place that most people would think of to find farms. But that is changing. All around the world, more and more people are growing food in cities. Nairobi is one of these cities. Today’s Spotlight is on urban farming in Nairobi.

Voice 2  

Since early human history, farming has been a big part of the way people live. However, the way people live and grow their food has changed. New technology has made farming easier and easier. As machines did more of the work, fewer people worked as farmers. Also, more and more people have been moving to cities. The United Nations reports that by 2050, two thirds of the world’s population will live in cities.

Voice 1  

This is urbanization. And it affects the way people around the world get their food. Most food is produced in rural areas. But most people live in cities. This means their food has to travel from far away. Getting food to the city involves many steps. These steps make a complex world food system. This system can break easily. This was the case in Nairobi. In 2008, Kenya experienced violence during the political elections. It became difficult for people to get food. Many people went hungry. The price for food in Nairobi increased quickly.

Voice 2  

Like many other big cities, Nairobi also has high levels of poverty. Poverty also affects the food system. The East Africa Institute reports that 44% of Nairobi’s population is undernourished. They do not have enough food to keep them healthy. It is also difficult for people in poverty to buy food if food prices increase. When this happens, urban poor people suffer. Many food experts believe that the way people get food needs to change.

Voice 1  

Most people think that urban farming can be a solution to some of the problems that can come with urbanization. Kuria Gathuru is a trainer and researcher with the Mazingira Institute. The Mazingira Institute trains urban farmers. In a Mazingira video on Youtube, Gathuru said,

Voice 3  

“When I first started, I started with street children. The children were going from the poor areas to the city centre to ask for food. I went out into a place called Kingyago. I started showing the children how to grow food along the river. And they started growing food. In the process, the mothers began supporting us. And in the end, the whole community supported us. We decided to farm as a community.”

Voice 2  

It was not easy for Gathuru and the people in the poor Kingyago area. At first, the city government destroyed their little farms. Nairobi had laws against growing farms and keeping farm animals. Many cities have similar laws. Francis Wachira, the Rabbit King, talked about when he started his farm:

Voice 4  

“We had a lot of resistance from the community around. People here in Kenya believed that if you wanted to do farming you had to go to a rural area. Farming should not happen in the city. And Nairobi’s city government had laws which said that you cannot grow any vegetables. You cannot keep animals.”

Voice 1  

City governments make these rules because they believe they are protecting their populations. Growing food in some places can involve risks. Water and soil can contain poison. Cities need laws to make sure that urban farming is safe and healthy. In 2015, Nairobi established a major new law. This law makes farming legal in Nairobi. It helps farmers. But it also helps keep farming safe in the city. Wachira told the East Africa Institute,

Voice 4  

“I said that one day I will sell rabbit in the market. That has happened today.”

Voice 2  

People’s bad opinions can also prevent urban farming. Farming requires creativity and intelligence. But many people think that farming is for people who have not gone to school. NEFSALF has been working hard to change bad opinions about farming. NEFSALF is a group in Nairobi. It is made up of more than 700 farmers and 50 farming organizations.

Voice 1  

NEFSALF began in 2004. Since then, it has trained more than 3,000 farmers. They try to help younger people see that there are many benefits to farming. In the beginning, many of the farmers working with NEFSALF were older. But now, many of them are young.

Voice 2  

Farming has made life better for many young people. Nairobi is using urban farming to build a better city. It provides jobs for people. It also brings food closer to where people live. This can make prices more secure. It also helps the environment.

Voice 1  

Jeremy Wagner is a Canadian researcher who worked with East Africa Institute. In a video by that group, he said,

Voice 5  

“Urban agriculture is becoming an important global reality. We are seeing it happen all over the world. Urban agriculture closes the space between people and their food. It helps individuals become actors in their own food systems.”

Voice 2  

Where does your food come from? Do you live in an urban area or a rural area? What does your food system look like? Tell us about your experiences. You can leave a comment on our website. Or email us at radio@radioenglish.net. And find us on Facebook - just search for Spotlight Radio.

Voice 1  

The writer of this program was Jen Hawkins. The producer was Michio Ozaki. The voices you heard were from the United States and the United Kingdom. All quotes were adapted for this program and voiced by Spotlight. You can listen to this program again, and read it, on the internet at www.radioenglish.net. This program is called, ‘City Farms in Nairobi’.

Voice 2  

You can also get our programs delivered directly to your Android or Apple device through our free official Spotlight English app. We hope you can join us again for the next Spotlight program. Goodbye.

Question:

Are you allowed to grow food where you live? Do you?

Comments


Avatar Spotlight
Giant
said on October 18, 2016

The urban agriculture, is a great idea, noted that the wages of vegetables and fruit transport, raise their prices dramatically . I hope that this project becomes effective all over the world, so it’ll contribute in solve the food crises in the world !

Severino Ramos da Silva's avatar
Severino Ramos da Silva
said on October 18, 2016

.(JavaScript must be enabled to view this email address) (Severino Ramos)
To: spotlight programme
Subject: answer to the questions above
Date: Tuesday 18, October 2016
São Paulo SP Brazil

Dear Liz Waid, Jen Hawkins, Adam navis, and Michio Ozaki:

At first, I want to thank you to bring us readers and leaners of English more noe great article, thanks!

My food comes from northeast, north, southeast, and South of the Brasil. So, I buy it at the supermarket.
I live in a urban area. I live in a small village in São Paulo city but in this small area there are not farmers.
Here in Brazil, our farmers have a morden technology system of farms. So, they have many workers, machines, agronomists, and engineers to prepare the soil, to plant the seeds, to crop and to harvest the grains, fruits, and vegetables.
No, I am not allowed to grow food where I live because I live in a small village how I said above. However, next to the building where I live there is a free ground. So, this free ground belong to the oil company of the Brazil. And nobody is allowed to build houses there because that free ground there are under the soil many pipes in which run oil. But on that free ground there are a lot of trees. So, sometimes, I plant some seeds on it. For example: my mango and passoin fruit plant is already one meter high.
Therefore, If I lived in a farm, I would plant a lot of seeds such as: mango, passoin fruit, pineapple, apple, avogado, grape, banana, watermelon, grains, peach, and vegetables.

The best regards,
Severino Ramos