Agriculture has been pushed out of urban environments because of the high value and competing demands for urban and peri-urban space, and because of the relative competitiveness of large-scale production combined with streamlined long-haul transport and distribution chains.
But recent developments in intensive protected cropping, hydroponic production and PFAL (Plant Factory Artificial Lighting) technologies have meant that it is becoming feasible to place agriculture back directly within urban environments.
Key areas of technology that need further development for this to become a significant part of the food system in our increasingly urbanised world are:
Although population pressures continue to displace traditional forms of agriculture from the urban environment, there are strong indications that a new intensive Urban Agriculture industry that can provide a significant proportion of the demand for fresh produce in cities the world over is becoming a reality.
The key challenge for those operating within the Urban Agriculture Theme is to build on and integrate developments across a broad range of fields in order to bring scale and efficiencies to this emerging industry.