December 09, 2022 NEWS

A review paper on the expansion of urban agriculture support

A review paper on the expansion of urban agriculture support, led by Professor Gian Powell B. Marquez (College of Global Liberal Arts at Ritsumeikan University) and his research group has been published in the American scientific journal Heliyon .


In order to bear the increasing pressure of population growth and depletion of natural resources, it is necessary to consider expanding agriculture beyond traditional practices by encouraging urban agriculture.

Urban agriculture has different potential values, from economic profitability, to socio-environmental values such as, among others, health and well-being of residents in terms of reducing poverty, food insecurity and supply chain disruptions, as well as minimizing the intensified land and water use associated with traditional agricultural methods.

With development of technologies and plant biotechnology, we can reduce many concerns related to the implementation of urban agriculture. Some of such advancements are visible in forms of vertical farms and plant biotechnology.

This study analyzes different case studies and relevant policies to determine how to fill the gap between current and future urban agriculture practices and sustainable development. By reducing these gaps, the urban agriculture sector has potential to successfully grow and become integrated in cities, providing benefits to its citizens.


Similar to the beginnings of use of renewable energy sources, it has been challenging to support the growth of urban agriculture in cities due to its poor economic profitability, but its potential benefits should outweigh the initial implementation difficulties.

The paper provides an overview of advancements in urban agriculture technologies and plant biotechnology that could serve as potential solutions in increasing the future profitability of urban agriculture, focusing on vertical farming and plant biotechnology.

Vertical farming entails indoor cultivation of crops in vertically-stacked layers where lighting, temperature and nutrients can be precisely controlled. Vertical farming methods include hydroponics, aeroponics, aquaponics, and digeponics. These methods have many benefits, such as using less freshwater, conserving land and soil, while keeping food free from harmful pesticides and herbicides.

Plant biotechnology focuses on development of disease-resistant and climate-ready crops. Due to global climate change, it is important to address the difficulties faced by farmers in growing crops, as well as develop plants that need less space for growth and have faster life cycles. This way, we can solve the issue of limited space for cultivating crops, while increasing profitability. Unfortunately, while crops that are developed by conventional breeding are more easily accepted by the public, those that involve GMs are often still not accepted.

Additionally, this research examines different sides of urban agriculture to highlight its potential value, as well as issues, beyond the obvious economic profitability such as social, health and well-being, disaster risk reduction, and environmental perspectives. Although economic benefits are small at the community level, urban agriculture has the potential to provide new jobs or additional income for citizens and increase access to fresh foods and space for personal leisure. Furthermore, urban agriculture can help solve one of the primary issues seen during the Covid-19 pandemic, supply chain disruptions, since strong dependence on imported food makes cities, regardless of their development, vulnerable to sudden food depletion.

Finally, the paper analyzes relevant studies and implemented policies in order to determine how to connect current and future urban agriculture practices and sustainable development. As new technologies evolve and provide solutions to current issues regarding urban agriculture, it will be necessary to design new policies that will maximize the potential of urban agriculture and ease its implementation.


With the rapid growth of population and exhaustion of natural resources, main problems associated with traditional agricultural practices can be roughly divided into two categories: concerns regarding loss of wildlife due to expansion of land used to grow crops and consequences from the intensified land use. As a result, the interest in urban agriculture as a sustainable alternative to traditional agriculture has been growing, and was further highlighted when food supply had been cut due to production and logistic disruption brought by the COVID-19 pandemic in 2019.

Urban agriculture refers to various practices of cultivating, processing, and distributing food within cities. On one hand, it is usually associated with many positive aspects such as providing food security, better use of resources, as well as climate resilience. On the other hand, the negative aspects, among others, include the problem of land access due to high land prices in cities, water usage, as well as legal and policy framework. In order to resolve issues regarding its major issues, such as water usage and pollution, different types of methods of vertical farming, as well as plant biotechnology can be implemented.


This paper provides a review of both empirical and theoretical literature to identify different sides and benefits of urban agriculture, as well as provide insights regarding difficulties of its implementation.

In the first part, the paper provides an overview of the most recent developments in urban agriculture related to vertical farming and plant biotechnology. In the second part, the paper explores different types of contributions made by urban agriculture through practical applications. The paper is concluded with different policy challenges that stand in the way of a smoother application of urban agriculture practices.

Overall, the paper aims to provide an overview and analysis of relevant literature, discussing both positive and negative aspects of urban agriculture implementation, as well as providing deeper insight into potential solutions to some of the issues regarding urban agriculture.

Article Information

Article Title: A review on urban agriculture: technology, socio-economy, and policy
Author:Grace Ning Yuan, Gian Powell B. Marquez, Haoran Deng, Anastasiia Iu, Melisa Fabella, Reginald B. Salonga, Fitrio Ashardiono, Joyce A. Cartagena
Article:Heliyon Volume 8, Issue 11
DOI: 10.1016/j.heliyon.2022.e11583


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