Planting to feed the city? : Agricultural production, food security and multi-spatial livelihoods among urban households in Ghana

Abstract: The 2010 population and housing census in Ghana revealed that more than half of the Ghanaian population lived in urban centers. Critical to the phenomenon of urbanization is the question of how to sustainably feed the urban population especially the urban poor as rapid urbanization has the tendency to urbanize poverty. This has led to renewed policy debate about the implications of farming in cities to the food security of urban residents.This thesis aims at contributing to the debate by delineating the non-market sources of food and analyze their implications for urban households in terms of food security. In doing this, the thesis analyzes the interplay that exist between the various agricultural engagements by urban households in both urban and rural areas as well as food transfer receipts to urban households and how they contribute to household food security in small and medium sized cities in Ghana. The thesis employs a mixed methods approach-quantitative and qualitative methods- to investigate the concept of urban food security. The analytical framework employed is grounded on the access pillar to household food security.The findings of the thesis are presented in three articles preceded by a ‘kappa’. I argue that the debate on the contribution of urban agriculture to urban household food security seems to over concentrate on urban agriculture alone without accounting for the other food provisioning opportunities available to the household including food production in peri-urban and rural spaces. Expanding the scope also helps to account for other non-market food sources such as food transfer receipts that are found to play important roles in the food security of urban households. The thesis establishes that, households with multiple food provisioning opportunities, especially those who engage in both urban and rural agriculture have better food security outlook than those who do not.The implications from the findings is that policies aimed at addressing urban food security through own food provisioning should not be treated in isolation. Rather, such policies should account for the active rural-urban interactions characteristic of many countries in sub-Saharan Africa and how they could be harnessed to complement each other for better food security and livelihood outcomes.