A book titled Cities Farming for the Future: Urban Agriculture for Green and Productive Cities(CFF), written by René van Veenhuizen, explains the results of extensive research concerning the challenges, developments, strategies, and initiatives related to global urban agriculture. RUAF Foundation published an edition of this book in 2006 with contributions from two partners: the IIRR and the IDRC.

There is growing recognition that urban agriculture is significant for producing food, raising livestock for food, supplying food, and marketing it within and around cities. The city is farming for the future by investing in urban agriculture to boost food security, create jobs, and improve access to healthy, locally-produced food. It will help cities become self-sufficient, reduce dependence on outside food sources, and increase local food options. The practice of urban farming also has environmental benefits; for example, reducing the amount of land needed for traditional agriculture improves water usage and pollution and improves air quality. Over the past few years, organizations, including local and national leads, have developed a growing global vision for urban farming. This vision focuses on creating innovative solutions to food insecurity and community development while promoting sustainability and environmental stewardship. These organizations strive to create a socially, economically, and environmentally responsible future by emphasizing urban agriculture and its benefits.

In conjunction with INUA and the RUAF Foundation, knowledge sharing on urban agriculture has been improved, and local governments, NGOs, farmer groups, and other partners have been strengthened in terms of co-working in the strategic development of urban agriculture. This book examines emerging innovations in ecologically sustainable urban agriculture, and it is believed that local governments, non-profit organizations, and government officials will find the book particularly valuable.

As populations continue to grow, urban agriculture is becoming increasingly important. In the past, traditional agriculture produced healthy food in abundance. Due to the increasing demands of cities and metropolises, conventional agriculture is in decline, and urban agriculture is taking place. As a result of urbanization, land and resources are becoming scarcer in developing countries, making it difficult to grow large quantities of food. The agricultural sector suffers from food insecurity and malnutrition. Governments and citizens are facing significant challenges in ensuring food and nutrition access in urban areas.

In this book, the author raises the attention towards urban agriculture, and jointly with the RUAF foundation, he formed the CFF programme to make cities more sustainably resilient. Urban agriculture has several processes and roles and is of crucial importance to 

  • Making cities more food secure, healthier, and more nutritious; 
  • Increasing urban work and income possibilities, mainly for urban poor populations, and providing them with social security;
  • Reducing urban organic waste to a resource and improving nutrient recycling; 
  • Growing sociable inclusion and community maturation among underprivileged people;
  • They are conserving and enhancing green spaces in urban areas.

The Cff Programme | Farming Cities

Cities Farming for the Future(CFF) is a program in collaboration with the RUAF Foundation and author René van Veenhuizen that seeks to reduce urban poverty, improve urban food security, encourage green initiatives, and ensure equality between urban and peri-urban farmers as well as collaborative city governance. By promoting this initiative, cities can create a healthier and more sustainable future for their inhabitants. RUAF-CFF initiatives will directly contribute to achieving the Millennium Development Goals, especially abolishing hunger, extreme poverty, and ecological sustainability. Moreover, an RUAF-CFF effort will ensure that cities have a resilient and adaptive approach to climate change, promoting green energy and sustainable urban development. The programme was designed to achieve this objective through an integrated method consisting of six factors strongly correlated and when combined, produce the desired result. They were as follows:

  • Connecting the regional RUAFs
  • Reinforcing the capacities
  • Informed decision-making
  • Formulating and planning community-based policies
  • Inclusion of women in the mainstream
  • Learning from observing

Cff Activities

In the context of CFF, progress is being made in seven areas, each focusing on meet-up cities (20 in total) and target cities (47 in full). Demonstrating the efficacy of CFF in these meet-ups and target cities will contribute to its eventual success across the country. For CFF to be successful, meet-up cities are crucial. They allow the program to be demonstrated to work and replicated in other cities nationwide. Moreover, the results of these meet-up cities provide evidence that CFF can also be successfully implemented in other cities.

The project focuses on three meet-up cities: Magadi and Hyderabad in India and Gampaha in Sri Lanka, as well as three target cities: Bangalore in India, Cagayan de Oro in the Philippines, and Colombo in Sri Lanka. As part of these meet-up cities, multi-stakeholder collaborative portals were created, local policies were examined, City Approach Principles were designed, and urban and periurban agriculture action plans were developed. Additionally, periurban agriculture is inspired and supported among poor and farming families as part of efforts to address municipal concerns about health and other challenges.

The following images detail the activities and initiatives that have taken place at meet-ups and in targeted cities.

Article in Focus: Cities Farming for the Future by René van Veenhuizen - Sheet1
Map of Magadi Vayalagam vegetable production. These activities were carried out to improve methods for preventing carrots from rotting during the rainy season_©International Water Management Institute (IWMI)
Article in Focus: Cities Farming for the Future by René van Veenhuizen - Sheet2
First cropping cycle of Chilli in Gampaha, Sri Lanka, each producer has prepared business plans which include physical, natural, organizational and financial input requirements_©International Water Management Institute (IWMI)

Achieved Results | Farming Cities

As a result of the RUAF-CFF programme, significant results have been achieved from 2005-2008. Moreover, these results have helped improve the livelihoods of farmers and their families in the participating countries. The programme has helped increase access to market information and strengthened policy formulation and implementation capacity. It has also led to increased access to resources and improved agricultural production. In addition, the programme has provided training and technical advice to farmers, which has helped them to manage their farms better and increase their incomes. These are the following results achieved by the CFF Programme.

  • A local information hub on urban agriculture and food security has been set up and has gained the skills necessary to provide helpful services to locals. 
  • Agricultural practitioners now have access to information that’s tailored to them. 
  • Various activity options are available at different regional levels to meet the needs of other target groups. 
  • There’s a push by local governments to come up with gender-sensitive guidelines and action plans for urban agriculture. 
  • By engaging in urban farming meet-up programs, urban poor individuals can improve their health, nutrition, food security, income, and wastewater disposal.
  • The meet-up cities’ actions are reproduced in other cities, in whole or part. 
  • RUAF partners in urban agriculture use a cooperative and gender-sensitive outcome and monitoring approach. 
  • Changing guidelines at the national level 
  • In the past few years, urban agriculture has gained attention worldwide. 


Urban farming offers a way for cities to produce food, creating a more sustainable and resilient food system. Growing food in cities can help to reduce food insecurity, improve access to fresh, nutritious food, and provide economic opportunities for local communities. Additionally, urban agriculture can help reduce carbon emissions associated with food transport and create green spaces that can help improve air quality and reduce the urban heat island effect. Furthermore, urban farming can also create wildlife habitats, resulting in a more prosperous and vibrant urban ecosystem. For instance, when done correctly, urban agriculture can provide a habitat for pollinators, like bees and butterflies, to thrive in the city. It is akin to planting a garden in a desert; it takes water, nourishment, and care to grow anything, but with the right conditions, the result can be a flourishing oasis for all the life that inhabits it. These concepts suggest a spatial and economic growth policy focused on a regional urban scenario where eclectic networks interact with open areas in a ‘functional urban region’. In contrast to buffer zones between urban networks, open areas are integral to a city’s regional infrastructure, serving mixed goals. In this approach, functional open areas are essential to the success of a sustainable urban region, as well as interconnections and integrations. 

As cities begin to rely on sustainable agriculture to ensure their food security in the future, the positive effects of urban agriculture will become more evident. These positive effects include increased access to healthy, affordable food and improved environmental stewardship. One often overlooked benefit of urban agriculture is its beneficial impact on animal welfare. Animals raised in urban environments benefit from the companionship and educational aspects of being kept as pets and the production of fresh, local food products. The RUAF-CFF Program has long-term positive impacts, such as creating green jobs, developing a more sustainable food system, and promoting healthier lifestyles. Additionally, the program helps support local farms, which can help protect the environment and humanely treat animals. Moreover, urban farms and animals in cities help foster a greater connection between people and nature, resulting in meaningful relationships with the environment and an enhanced understanding and appreciation of all living things.

List Of Acronyms | Farming Cities

  1. CFF –  Cities Farming for the Future
  2. RUAF – Resource centres on urban agriculture & food security.
  3. IIRR – International Institute of Rural Reconstruction
  4. IDRC – International Development Research Centre
  5. INUA – International Network on Urban Agriculture
  6. IWMI – International Water Management Institute


International Development Research Centre and Van Veenhuizen, R. (2006) Cities farming for the future: Urban agriculture for green and productive cities. Edited by R. Van Veenhuizen. IDRC (International Development Research Centre). Available at: https://www.idrc.ca/en/book/cities-farming-future-urban-agriculture-green-and-productive-cities (Accessed: February 20, 2023).

Home – initiative: Resource centers on Urban Agriculture and Food Security – south and southeast Asia (2017) Initiative: Resource Centres on Urban Agriculture and Food Security – South and SouthEast Asia. Available at: https://ruaf-asia.iwmi.org/ (Accessed: February 20, 2023).

RUAF Foundation,Leusden (2008) RUAF-CFF Final Progress Report March 2008 (Results obtained 2005-2008). Available at: https://ruaf.org/assets/2019/11/Final-report-on-the-Cities-Farming-for-the-Future-CFF-programme-2005-2008.pdf.

René van Veenhuizen, ETC-Urban agriculture (2006) Urban agriculture for green and productive cities, Ruaf.org. Available at: https://ruaf.org/assets/2019/11/Cities-Farming-for-the-Future_compressed.pdf (Accessed: February 22, 2023).

Coordinator), P. A. (regional (2009) Annual report RUAF-cities farming for the future(South and South East Asia Region 2008). Available at: https://publications.iwmi.org/pdf/H042560.pdf (Accessed: February 22, 2023).

Levenston, M. (2009) RUAF update 11 – resource centers on urban agriculture and food security, City Farmer News. Available at: https://cityfarmer.info/ruaf-update-11-resource-centres-on-urban-agriculture-and-food-security/ (Accessed: February 23, 2023).

van Veenhuizen, R. (ed.) (2006) Cities farming for the future, urban agriculture for green and productive cities. RUAF Foundation, IDRC and IIRR. Available at: https://www.environmentandurbanization.org/cities-farming-future-urban-agriculture-green-and-productive-cities (Accessed: February 24, 2023).

Pasquini, Y. C. A. D. (2008) “Mid-Term Review,” Cities Farming for the Future Program, p. 126. Available at: https://idl-bnc-idrc.dspacedirect.org/bitstream/handle/10625/40691/128942.pdf.