Produce certification in Mumbai, India

Produce certification to strengthen consumers' health interests and farmers' income from urban vegetable production in Mumbai, India

Project leader: Prof. Dr. Andreas Buerkert
Doctoral student: Prem Jose Vazhacharickal
Duration: 2011 - 2014
Financing: ICDD

Urban and peri-urban agriculture (UPA) greatly contributes to the livelihood strategies and food security of urban poor in most major cities of developing countries while at the same time it allows to recycle urban waste and to use temporarily available open space. In India the flow of information associated with an increasingly globalized economy has led to a quick rise in quality standards for both labour conditions and expected quality of agricultural products. Suspected contamination of vegetable produce in UPA systems with heavy metals from industrial effluents and faeces contained in irrigation water are therefore increasingly under debate.

Mumbai, known as the commercial capital of India, is a heavily populated industrial city whose population in 2007 reached 19 millions, thus becoming the fourth largest urban agglomeration in the world. At the same time, UPA activities in the city play a pivotal role for poverty alleviation and fulfilling consumers’ need for fresh vegetables.

In an effort to provide input into more informed policy decisions on how to regulate UPA activities along the entire value chain (including major stakeholders such as waste dischargers, landlords, producers, intermediaries and consumers), this research aims at (i) a survey of critical production areas to identify sources of contamination with heavy metal and faecal pathogens, (ii) identifying measures of how to increase food safety (making available food produce with low levels of heavy metals and pathogens) for consumers, and (iii) designing suitable certification schemes to combine the need of enhanced resource use efficiency (saving nutrients and water) and increased value creation for agriculture commodities at the farm level with consumers’ concerns about the development of an environmentally friendly and healthy system of UPA production.

Besides the creation of solid data about the role of UPA production activities for household income and consumer health, the project will establish guidelines for policy makers and city planners on how to match competing interests of land use. The derived policy regulations are also meant to help UPA producers leave their often semi-legal status and obtain formal usufruct rights to land they farm until further use for the establishment of urban infrastructure (roads, buildings or public parks).