I seek to address the issue of urban agriculture which has been wrongly interpreted in the media. The impression that has been given of Harare City Council is that of an institution bend on frustrating the people.
To put the record straight – Harare City supports the practice of urban agriculture from time immemorial eg in 1948 Waterfalls as a suburb was de-facto planned urban agriculture with animal husbandry and grinding mills freely permitted. Similarly Borrowdale had a minimum 1.5 ha plots that allowed for horse breeding and intensive horticulture.
However the ongoing land subdivisions in the suburbs that have led to densification are curtailing the continued use of some of the plots for animal husbandry and intensive horticulture.
All high density suburbs have always practiced urban agriculture within the confines of their stands. The people there grow crops such as vegetables, maize and fruit trees.
Council has never interfered with such noble practices aimed at adding to the nutritional values of the families.
Mechanisms put in place to safeguard the environment are then misconstrued to imply that council is against urban cultivation.
What this means is people are free to cultivate n designated and approved pieces of land. The people are free to approach the city’s district offices to be shown the approved sites for urban cropping. I cannot name all the approved places in this letter.
However I seek to educate the people of Harare that cultivating on road verges, stream bank cultivation and on wetlands is prohibited.
Let it be noted from the onset that urban agriculture encompasses a number of farming fields such as poultry, cultivation and animal husbandry.
Very few people talk of poultry and animal husbandry because these are usually carried out in confined areas – bounded land.
It is crop cultivation that always invites the wrath of the media when the rain season beckons.
City management is very aware of the contribution to self sustenance that is played by urban agriculture. That appreciation alone is enough to warrant the massive support that council has on urban farming.
I hope we have put the record straight and we will not be misinterpreted when we deal maize crop planted n unsuitable pieces of land.
The city will not tolerate crops that hinder the smooth flow of traffic, crops that endanger the safety of residents. Muggings and robberies are known to be on the rise during this cropping season as people plant crops along footpaths used by residents to go to the bus ranks, shops, clinics and adjacent suburbs.
I hope the media will join us to educate the people against seemingly innocent practices but which in the end cost lives.
Acting corporate communications manager