“There is food we deserve, and there is food we do not deserve” - Food injustice, place and power in urban agriculture in Cape Town and Maputo

Nicole Paganini, Stefanie Lemke

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    11 Citations (Scopus)
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    Urban agriculture (UA) is perceived to foster the self-determination of localised food systems and feed growing urban populations. We apply a food justice lens with a focus on place and power to explore UA's contributions to livelihoods and food availability in Cape Town, South Africa and Maputo, Mozambique and to understand the power dynamics between actors. We conducted household surveys, focus group discussions, key informant interviews, participant observations, and farmer-led co-research from 2017 to 2019. In Cape Town, UA is an NGO-led, subsidised initiative regulating production decisions and market access, instead of enhancing self-determination. Food is produced in highly confined spaces in informal settlements, almost exclusively for a niche market of wealthy consumers in the city centre. Farmers are disconnected from consumers and from their own produce, with only 15% of farmers eating the vegetables they grow. In Maputo, UA emerged from farming traditions in the peri-urban green belt, producing leafy green vegetables for both the urban population and 99% of the farmers themselves, thereby contributing to local food availability. However, farmers depend on prices determined by intermediaries with farm association members of higher status and privilege holding leading positions and determining access to agricultural inputs and services. In both contexts, we revealed stark structural inequalities and highly uneven power dynamics. As one outcome of co-research in Cape Town, farmers established their own market channels and advocated for food councils that would enable them to have a voice in shaping urban agriculture and local food systems.
    Original languageEnglish
    Pages (from-to)1000-1020
    Number of pages21
    JournalLocal Environment: The International Journal of Justice and Sustainability
    Issue number11-12
    Early online date25 Nov 2020
    Publication statusPublished - 2020

    Bibliographical note

    This is an Accepted Manuscript of an article published by Taylor & Francis in The International Journal of Justice and Sustainability on 25/11/2020, available online: http://www.tandfonline.com/10.1080/13549839.2020.1853081

    Copyright © and Moral Rights are retained by the author(s) and/ or other copyright owners. A copy can be downloaded for personal non-commercial research or study, without prior permission or charge. This item cannot be reproduced or quoted extensively from without first obtaining permission in writing from the copyright holder(s). The content must not be changed in any way or sold commercially in any format or medium without the formal permission of the copyright holders.


    German Ministry for Food and Agriculture (BMEL) between 2016 and 2019 under Grant [number 2813FSNU13]


    • Cape Town
    • Food justice
    • Maputo
    • alternative food systems
    • farmer-led co-research
    • urban agriculture

    ASJC Scopus subject areas

    • Geography, Planning and Development
    • Management, Monitoring, Policy and Law


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