Urban agriculture, urban planning and urban development in the contemporary African city: a case study of the Lukhanyo Hub Project

Master Thesis


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University of Cape Town

PLEASE NOTE: THIS THESIS IS EMBARGOED. Historically, urban agriculture (UA) in the African context has been viewed as a food security and livelihood intervention. However, influenced primarily by discourses in the Global North, the framing of urban agriculture has shifted. Increasingly, advocacy from urban planners has shaped how UA “gets done”. Drawing on contemporary planning concepts, these practitioners have been innovating new forms of urban agriculture that connect UA to the built environment, such as vertical farming, rooftop gardens, and mixed-use urban “agrihoods”. However, scholars from the fields of Southern and African urbanism and critical urban planning, have raised concerns regarding the uncritical application of Northern theories, including those from urban planning, into the African context. Specifically, there is concern around planners’ lack of regard for the inherent characteristics of African cities as they attempt to world them into global cities. Against this background, this dissertation examines the process behind attempts to integrate these new forms of urban agriculture into the African context through a case study of the Lukhanyo Hub project in Khayelitsha, Cape Town, South Africa. Focusing specifically on visions for urban agriculture at the Lukhanyo Hub, this dissertation asks, How do each of the actors articulate the purpose/function of urban agriculture? What is the spatiality of their ideal urban agriculture and why? and What is the role the state, civil society organizations and community in that vision? To answer these questions, participants from the project development team, municipal government, and civil society organisations were engaged in in-depth interviews and participant observation. The results centred around four themes: creating a farmer network, urban agriculture and environmental education/training, economic or distribution model, and creating a contextualised but replicable Hub model. Several challenges and critiques emerged throughout the data collection process, which seemed to stall the development. The author argues that this forced the development team to take a more participatory, co-development approach. This should have positive effects on the future of the project, though further research will be required to say for certain.