Big data suggests big potential for urban farming
Urban agriculture could provide several percent of global food production, according to the first global estimate of its potential.
The new study estimates that urban agriculture could produce 180 million tonnes of food each year. Urban agriculture could also provide other benefits worth $160 billion each year, globally, including energy savings through insulation of rooftops, reducing the urban heat-island effect by increasing vegetation cover, avoiding stormwater runoff, fixing nitrogen and controlling pests.
The estimates were carried out by assessing satellite images from Google Earth in conjunction with datasets on population and weather.
While some of the food system challenges facing humanity are local, in an interconnected world, adopting a global perspective is essential. Many environmental issues, such as climate change, need supranational commitments and action to be addressed effectively. Due to ever increasing global trade flows, prices of commodities are connected through space; a drought in Romania may thus increase the price of wheat in Zimbabwe.
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