A review of the role of urban agriculture in the sustainable city discourse

Gideon Abagna Azunre, Owusu Amponsah*, Charles Peprah, Stephen Appiah Takyi, Imoro Braimah

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalReviewpeer-review


The debate on the role of urban agriculture in the sustainable city discourse remains unresolved in the conventional literature. Therefore, the purpose of this study was to review relevant literature to clarify the role of urban agriculture in sustainable cities. The search for literature was guided by themes such as: a)urban agricultural practices, b)indicators for the measurement of sustainable cities, c)economic, social and environmental benefits of urban agriculture, and d)negative effects of urban agriculture on the city. The results from a synthesis of the literature indicate that urban agriculture supports the economic, social and environmental sustainability of cities. However, if the discussion gives credence to only the economic dimension of sustainability, then urban agriculture loses the debate. This is because the economic benefits of prime city land that is used used for non-agricultural purposes (such as commercial or industrial)is profound. However, the social and environmental functions of responsible urban agriculture, particularly in reducing the rift between urbanisation and nature, may be difficult to quantify. These social and environmental functions underscore the importance of urban agriculture in the city landscape. The paper concludes by arguing that focussing on only economic sustainability in the urban agriculture-sustainable city discourse is a travesty of the idea of sustainable development. The paper presents practical steps that can be taken to preserve agriculture in cities towards their sustainability.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)104-119
Publication statusPublished - 2019


  • Development
  • Sociology and Political Science
  • Urban Studies
  • Tourism, Leisure and Hospitality Management
  • Compact cities
  • Global south
  • Sustainable cities
  • Urban agriculture
  • Urban land use planning


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