Bangkok, Thailand: Geographical Information System (GIS) is being used to map vegetable production in the greater Bangkok region, seat of Thailand’s capital, to analyse how urban and peri-urban agriculture (UPA) contribute to food security in the city of more than 14 million.
“UPA produces around one-fifth of world’s food, with 800 million people involved in it. Our project aims at giving decision-makers more elements to harness this potential,” says Yingyong Paisooksantivatana, the associate dean of the agriculture faculty at Kasetsart University in Bangkok.
The V-GIS (vegetable-GIS, or “veggies”,) project is a computerized information system that analyses data gathered on the ground and via satellite about crop species, production, land surface and workforce, was launched in April 2012.
GIS has been used to study UPA over the last decade in Chile, China, Portugal and Vietnam, among other countries.
Rapid urbaniszation in developing countries has been accompanied by a sharp increase in urban food insecurity. Scientists and policymakers have increasingly turned to fruits and vegetables – a major portion of UPA crops – to get communities through lean times in creative ways.
“The cultivation of fruits and vegetables inside Greater Bangkok is necessary for many inhabitants but very little is known about it,” said Narin Senapa, a research and training assistant at the Taiwan-based NGO, AVRDC-The World Vegetable Centre (AVRDC), previously known as Asian Vegetable Research Development Centre, which is participating in the project.
The UN Population Division notes that more than half of world’s people now live in urban settings, and around one-third – some one billion people – live in slums. By 2020, an estimated 85 percent of the poor in Central and South America, and up to 45 percent of those in Africa and Asia will be concentrated in urban areas.