Knowledge management for urban agriculture – Leveraging the lessons learned

The health conscious urbanites are moving towards growing their own food. Starting as a hobby, urban farming is evolving as a necessary means to address issues of food security, physical and emotional well being. This calls for improved access to information and intensive knowledge exchange through diverse and emerging media.

Urbanisation is no longer a buzzword. According to the World Bank Report, about 56.15 per cent (4.35 billion) of the people live in urban areas  globally in 2020. It is projected to increase by 60% in 2030. Urbanisation is a positive force for change as it creates education, employment and livelihood opportunities. However, the rapid urban growth poses increased challenges in terms of a congested space, pollution, declining supply of good drinking water, urban heat island effect, occurrence of new diseases, increased poverty, malnutrition, high cost of living, raising crimes, rise in environmental crisis, etc. Of all the major challenges, food insecurity is becoming a major concern in urban areas, particularly to the urban poor. Transporting required food items from rural areas to feed the urbanites is becoming another challenge due to declining farm areas, increasing population, increasing risks of climate change, marketing, increased price of essential food items including perishables. Urban agriculture is proven to contribute to minimising the above challenges. Therefore, there is an urgent need for the urbanites to grow their own food to develop sustainable and responsive cities with enhanced livelihoods.

Nearly 100–200 million urban farmers worldwide provide the city markets with fresh horticultural goods (Orsini et al. 2013). Particularly, growing own food will help in overcoming food supply chain challenges during the situation like lockdown resulting from a pandemic (COVID-19). There is a growing interest among the researchers, academics, policymakers, etc., to explore the information sources that serve as a fulcrum for urbanites to acquire knowledge on urban farming and best urban agricultural practices.

Against this background, a study was conducted to find out the information sources for urbanites to grow their own food crops by the Centre for Agricultural Extension Innovations, Reforms, and Agripreneurship (CAEIRA), National Institute of Agricultural Extension Management (MANAGE). The study has surveyed 25 urban practitioners both in Hyderabad and Secunderabad.

What crops do urbanites grow and how?

Farming is practised in rural areas and farm land is the area where crops are grown. However, in urban areas, the crops are grown on the rooftop using buckets/plastic drums/mineral water canes or gunny bags or any other plastic material filled with soil and other nutrient content. Also, the urbanites with backyards have preferred to grow crops such as vegetables and leafy vegetables in the backyard and the wastewater from the household is used for irrigation. Balcony gardening is also gaining importance among the urbanites in the cities of both Hyderabad and Secunderabad.

Information Providers

The findings of the study show that most of the practitioners were educated and elderly and belonged to the middle and upper-middle classes. Often, the crops are maintained by the womenfolk and retired professionals. Most of these practitioners are who got motivated to practice urban farming mostly as a hobby.

Urbanites have limited access to a formalized extension system for their information needs. They follow a set of principles in growing crops right from method of producing crops, selecting growth media and culture, sourcing seeds, applying manure, managing irrigation and drainage as well as controlling pests and diseases. Therefore, understanding their information sources in practising agriculture is vital.

Extension service support for urban agriculture

Every city is establishing an urban agriculture wing to create awareness and provide Extension Support Services. The Government of Telangana state has established an Urban Farming Division (UFD) in Horticulture Department. This division organises a series of trainings and meetings at various locations of Hyderabad to create awareness on urban agriculture. It also supplies Urban Farming Kit (UFK) containing Silpaulin and bags of 1 cu. ft. with vegetable seeds and nutrients at a subsidised cost. This has motivated several urbanites to grow plants as they have access to information related to cultivation practices. UFD also advertises the importance of UFK through dailies, television channels and the programmes of local radio.

Social Media

a) Youtube channels – A virtual farm experience

Seeing is believing. Though the urban practitioners do not have the luxury of going to farm fields and gaining experience in the cultivation of crops, they view the videos on production management of crops uploaded on YouTube Channels. This has enabled them to get an insight into production management. The YouTube Channels which are popular among the urbanites of Hyderabad and Secunderabad are given in the Table 1.

Table. 1. YouTube Channels for urban agriculture

Name of the Channels Why it is important to urban agriculture
eTV Abhiruchi


It is a famous Telugu YouTube channel and has a subscription base of 701 K. It mostly focuses on the kitchen recipe of different Telangana and Andhra Pradesh cuisines. Besides, it features the best practices of successful kitchen gardens in Hyderabad and Secunderabad. The successful practitioners’ urban agriculture is documented and uploaded in the Channel for the benefit of urbanites. Therefore, the urbanites who need information related to urban agriculture can search in the search box provided in the channel and gain knowledge eg., Rooftop gardening.
Nature’s voice


It is a Telugu YouTube channel. It has a subscription rate of more than 153k. Several videos on organic farming practices and successful cases of urban agriculture are uploaded.
Gardens of

abundance (

It is the English language based YouTube Channel that uploads videos related to urban farms which are based on permaculture. It features the successful urban agriculture models of rooftops, balconies, terraces, backyards and so on. It has 5.32 K subscribers as on February 2022
Kitchen Gardening ( It posts videos related to basics on the know-how of soil, compost, pot preparation for urban farming and how to grow and manage vegetable crops. The total subscribers of Kitchen Garden was 1.03 million as on February 2022

b) WhatsApp groups

Majority of the practitioners are using WhatsApp for communicating the information related to crop production, pest and disease management. For example, at Sainikpuri in Secunderabad, more than 15 residents are growing vegetables. Though they are all from different professions and cultures, to overcome the information lacuna in growing vegetables, they have created a WhatsApp group (Sainikpuri Garden Club) involving all the practitioners.  The members of the group shares information on the production practices of various crops of vegetables, greens and fruits. Moreover, they post pictures of the crops affected with pests and diseases in the group and if any of them know the management practices, they respond to it immediately. The Sainikpuri Garden club also shares event information like exhibitions, training, meetings and other similar activities organized on urban agriculture.

This can bring revolution to urban agriculture. There are possibilities that there would be more such WhatsApp groups among urban practitioners. There is a need to identify them.

c) Facebook – An unlimited source of knowledge for urban agriculture

Most of the practitioners in Hyderabad and Secunderabad are accessing information from “intipanta – organic kitchen/terrace gardening (”, a Facebook-based urban agriculture group. The membership of the Facebook group is over  40,000 and this group shares the information, photos and videos related to organic urban agriculture. Members share the photos of the plants infected with the pest and disease, to get a response on organic control measures from other members. Also, the members share the procedures of preparation of bio and organic pesticides and manures like bio-enzymatic cleansers. Besides, the demonstrations conducted elsewhere are shared on this group, to inform the members who were not able to attend the demonstrations.

Oota from your Thota ( is a Facebook-based page and it serves as a one-stop shop on organic urban agriculture and brings together the organic farming related enterprises onto one platform. More than 15k people follow the page of Oota from your Thota.

Some practitioners have created a page in the Facebook. For example, Mrs. Vijayalaxmi from Sainikpuri, Secunderabd has created her own page in the Facebook i.e. MyediblegardenIndia to share and sell the products for practicing urban agriculture. This page is followed by nearly 1400 people. Mrs. Vijayalaxmi shares the best urban agriculture practices and innovative urban farming models on her page and also shares the related videos of urban agriculture sourced from Internet. The interested urbanites who want to grow vegegetables or other nutri crops in their households can be benefited MyediblegardenIndia. More can be seen using the URL

d) Magazines and Websites

Beyond social media, there are several digital magazines and websites devoted to Urban farming which serve as sources of information. For eg., Garden Culture magazine, Urban Agriculture magazine, Urban Farming magazine, Urban Kisan are some of them.

Growing your own food is no more a hobby, it is an integral part of life in ensuring a sustainable city.

Emerging Agri startups on urban agriculture

There are a growing number of agri startups in urban agriculture. They provide information and advisory services to urban practitioners in agriculture. For example, Living Greens Organic Pvt.Ltd, found by Mr Prateek Tiwari provides information on organic management of vegetables, fruits on the rooftop, backyard, schools and office surroundings and inspire the city dwellers to go grow their food crops on available spaces. Similarly, Mr Sai Krishna Pokuri, co-founder of an urban agricultural start-up namely Home Crops, provides information on edible gardens and cultivation practices. Further, Home Crops supplies seeds, organic fertilisers and pesticides for promoting urban agriculture. The other emerging start-ups on urban agriculture include Growing Greens, a Bangalore based startup found by Ms Hamsa V and Mr Nitin Sagi, Urban Fate Farms (UGF) found by Linesh Pillai, Homecrop, a Hyderabad based startup etc.

Schemes and programmes for promoting urban agriculture

There are no specific schemes for promoting urban agriculture. However, both central and state governments have initiated a few interventions to create a favourable ecosystem for urban agriculture. For example, Pradhan Mantri Krishi Sinchayee Yojana (PMKSY) aims to reuse the treated municipal wastewater for peri-urban agriculture and attract greater private investment in precision irrigation systems. Vegetable Garden Kit initiative of the Department of Horticulture and Plantation Crops in Tamil Nadu is providing vegetable garden kits at subsidised cost to urban dwellers. This initiative is popularly known as the ‘Do It Yourself’(DIY) Kit. Kerala being the consumer state has initiated a vegetable development programme to involve their citizens to grow their foods by supplying grow bags, vegetable seedlings, etc to cultivate vegetables on homestead and terraces. Likewise, most of the states are providing a subsided urban farming kit to encourage citizens to grow their own foods.

Center for Gender in Agriculture, Nutritional Security and Urban Agriculture

Considering the importance of urban agriculture in ensuring food and nutritional security, MANAGE has established a Center for Gender in Agriculture, Nutritional Security and Urban Agriculture. This centre provides a series of capacity development programmes to the stakeholders who are promoting urban agriculture. Also, it documents the good practices of urban agriculture, innovations and good models and disseminates to the practitioners. The e-book and a discussion paper on Urban farming are good information sources for practitioners. Further, the centre has developed a Model Vegetable Garden
(7m X 7m) at MANAGE. It helps the centre to create awareness about the possibility of growing vegetables in urban areas to the trainee visiting MANAGE and the general public from various parts of the country.

Impact and Way forward

Urban agriculture has impacted the lives of urbanites in many ways. As urbanites are health conscious due to changing lifestyles and food habits, they seek information related to organic amendments for the production of vegetables and other food crops. Practising agriculture serves as a stress buster and reduces blood pressure and diabetes at a perceivable level among the practitioners.

The study found that considerable efforts are taken by central and state governments to promote urban agriculture. However, new media, social media and agri startups serve as the most important information sources of urban agriculture.

Considering the importance of practising urban farming, there is a need for promoting community gardens on common lands, wherever possible. For this, the efforts of UFD or the Department of Horticulture have to be complemented by City Corporation, Greater Hyderabad Municipal Corporation (GHMC) in the case of Hyderabad. Inculcating knowledge among school children about practising farming through school gardens will elicit their interest in agriculture.

There is also a need for the identification of farmers who have migrated from villages to cities and utilisation of their expertise for promoting community gardens. They may be supplied with free urban farming kits along with seeds as part of an urban agriculture initiative. There is also a need for intensification of urban extension advisory services to persuade the city populace towards the importance of growing own food.



Sharma.A. (2019). Cities of the Poor: A view on Urban Poverty in India. The Times of India.

Orsini, F., Kahane, R., Nono-Womdim, R., & Gianquinto, G. (2013). Urban agriculture in the developing world: a review. Agronomy for sustainable development33(4), 695-720.

Zezza, A., & Tasciotti, L. (2010). Urban agriculture, poverty, and food security: Empirical evidence from a sample of developing countries. Food policy35(4), 265-273.

Vincent A and Saravanan Raj


Mr. Vincent A


Centre for Climate Change and Adaptation (CCA)

National Institute of Agricultural Extension Management (MANAGE)

Rajendranagar, Hyderabad, Telangana, India


Dr. Saravanan Raj

Director (Agricultural Extension)

National Institute of Agricultural Extension Management (MANAGE)

Rajendranagar, Hyderabad, Telangana, India


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