Coronavirus has posed an enormous challenge to global food security globally, disrupting supply chains and lowering productivity. The difficulties created by COVD-19 have caused many to drastically rethink our relationship with agriculture, and may accelerate agriculture innovation trends that were already taking place.
Urban agriculture is one of these phenomena. A sector which currently contributes to the food supply of over 800 million people, urban agriculture has been on the minds of agricultural innovators for some time.
As more people move to cities, urban agriculture will become increasingly important
While not an ultimate solution to the severe disruptions brought on by a crisis, Covid-19 has highlighted the value of local and short supply chains, especially for lower-income groups.
In Colombia’s Antioquia department, for example, urban gardens provide food security to thousands of citizens.
Antioquia, whose capital of Medellin has received widespread praise for its efficiency, data-driven handling of the crisis, is one of Colombia’s agricultural powerhouses.
Now, a forward-thinking urban agriculture program sponsored by the regional government could help Antioquia take the next step in food security.
Source: Nature Public Health Emergency Collection
Transforming into a Self-sufficient Food City: Medellin
The Huertas Urbanas por la Vida is an initiative of the Antioquia government to empower Medellin metropolitan residents to grow enough food to meet their nutritional needs at-home within 40 days.
In alliance with the Aburra Valley municipalities, the project will strengthen the relationship between Colombia’s cities and the countryside, providing opportunities for urban residents to meet most of their essential nutritional needs by growing food in their homes.
As of 2020, the secretariat has delivered almost 3,100 self-contained home gardens to Antioquian families. The kits come with educational materials to sow, cultivate and harvest food indoors and within one’s home.
Antioquia has legitimized urban gardening as a source of food security. The government now runs SomosCampo.tv, a platform for learning the entire process of cultivating an urban garden.
It’s all part of Antioquia’s grand vision to transform the department and, ultimately, Colombia into an international icon for agricultural innovation.
How Important is Antioquia as a Center for Agriculture?
The biodiverse and culturally rich Antioquia is one of Colombia’s most economically significant regions. With a population of over 6.55 million, it has nine subregions and 125 municipalities (including the department’s famous capital, Medellin), all with a unique agricultural flair.
Antioquia is one of the highest-exporting regions in the countr.y
Colombia is an emerging country with a wide variety of goods to offer the world, especially in terms of agriculture. As the country expands its agriculture exports, Antioquia will play a major role. The country hopes to repeat the successes of other LATAM countries such as Argentina, Chile, and Peru.
Farms need an upgrade, both technologically and organizationally. Together, Colombians are working to close the gap between cities, farmers, and international supply chains.
Also, urban agriculture tends to fall within a grey area in terms of policies or regulations. A joint private-public effort to formalize urban agriculture could improve countless people’s health and livelihoods in urban areas.
Antioquia is at the forefront of agricultural innovation. By fulfilling the needs of the domestic market, the region could easily set its sights elsewhere.
A Hub for Agricultural Innovation
Antioquia’s Secretary of Agriculture, Rodolfo Correa, unveiled the East Technological Development Hubs, an ambitious urban agriculture project aimed at contributing to Antioquia’s economic recovery and future growth.
The project will implement state-of-the-art greenhouses within facilities that Correa calls “agro-technological citadels.”
Correa says, “Antioquia will have for the first time, state-of-the-art technology in indoor harvests. This will increase the productivity of sectors such as tomato harvesting by more than 700%, from collecting 6 kilos per square meter to 45.”
The greenhouse citadels are a milestone in Colombian agriculture. They will provide a substantial improvement to productivity and food security in the region.
Agricultural innovation will transform Colombia.
People living close to or within urban areas will arguably benefit the most. In addition to greenhouse installations, the new facilities will contain all the resources needed for people in Antioquia’s eastern sub-region to transform the department’s agricultural processes.
Officials expect increased productivity and substantial added value to the Colombian ag sector through this new project. The citadels will be innovation centers that drive improved quality of international exports.
Headed by Correa and the governor of Antioquia, Luis Fernando Suarez, the Eastern Technological Development Hubs are one of the pillars of the government’s “Unidos por la Vida” (United for Life) plan.
Colombia’s agricultural production has grown rapidly.
The grand vision is to keep Antioquia on track towards becoming a global beacon of agricultural innovation.
As Colombia marches forward with ambitious infrastructural and policy-based progress, Antioquia will be a key driver in making Colombia a global agricultural leader.
These innovations are part of a concerted effort by the public and private sectors in Colombia to repeat the agricultural success stories of regional allies like Chile and Peru. As this trend continues, Colombia, and Antioquia especially, will emerge as agricultural powerhouses.