Organization of urban agriculture in Mitchells Plain, Cape Town
Kanosvamhira, Tinashe Paul
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Cape Town has arguably the most diversified urban agriculture sector across the country. Nevertheless, the desired gains of urban agriculture are barely realized. The organization of urban agriculture, specifically the nature in which urban farmers are organized in relation to supporting actors, is identified as a significant factor in influencing the success of the activity. Surprisingly, the literature on the organization of urban farmers and supporting actors in Cape Town is scanty. It is on this basis that this study aimed to investigate the organization of urban farmers and their relationship with supporting actors in Mitchells Plain. Informed by the social capital theory, a case-study approach was employed where both the qualitative and quantitative methods of data collection and analysis were utilized to meet the study objectives. A random sampling technique was used in the selection of the 60 respondents for a questionnaire survey. Purposive sampling was employed to select the key informant respondents which included knowledgeable urban farmers, Non-Governmental Organization officials, a Research official and a Provincial Department of Agriculture official. Secondary data collection was achieved through a systematic review of scholarly literature and policy documents. The statistical software IBM SPSS 25 was employed to process and analyze quantitative data through descriptive and inferential techniques. For qualitative data, thematic analysis was conducted to process the transcribed interviews whilst a hermeneutic approach was used to analyze secondary data. The study findings show that urban farmers are organized into loose and largely fragmented informal networks within Mitchells Plain. Although these forms of networks in their current state are beneficial to household farmers, community farmers require more formal networks to operate optimally and receive resources beyond non-governmental organization assistance. Moreover, the study discovered a lack of meaningful coordination of activities between the supporting actors involved in urban farming initiatives which militate against the success of urban agriculture activities in the community. Consequently, the study recommends that supporting actors need to develop functional partnerships to enhance the impact of urban agriculture activities. Also, community farmers are encouraged to affiliate with formal networks while household farmers simply need to enhance informal networking amongst themselves to improve activity coordination and resource access from supporting actors.