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The future of urban agriculture

The future of urban agriculture

Dr Anne Kovachevich
Australasia Foresight Lead

It is predicted that food production across the world will need to increase by around 25% by 2050. Coupled with growing urbanisation, restrictions in available agricultural land and climate change impacts, this leaves a large challenge to address.

It is estimated that 80% of all food will be consumed in cities by 2050, so future cities will be key players in the production and consumption of food. But how cities will manage the growing demand for food is as yet unclear.


Feeding a growing society

By 2050 we will need to feed 1.3 billion more people than in 2019. Across the world, highly industrialised farming practices are already in place to try and meet the growing demand for food. At Vulgamore farms in Kansas, up to 25 acres of wheat is harvested an hour. At Granja Mantiqueira in Brazil, 8 million hens lay 5.4 million eggs a day.

Reduce food waste

With our increasing consumption, comes an increase in food waste. This includes waste of food itself as well as its supporting products and materials such as packaging. For every dollar spent on food, society pays two dollars in additional health, environmental and economic costs associated with food production and waste. With rising urbanisation, cities will continue to influence the way food is grown, consumed and disposed of.

The circular economy offers a food system that can reduce or remove the additional costs associated with food waste. Beyond the current ‘take, make and dispose’ food system, a circular approach aims to design the waste and pollution, keep products and materials in use, and regenerate the natural systems that facilitate food growth.


Urban food systems

Cities have a key role to play in fundamentally shifting the way we think about food consumption, management and waste. By understanding consumption habits and behaviour, food production and supply chains, and food waste and disposal will shape the future of urban agriculture systems.

Find out more about urban agriculture in our recent Arup Explores report.