Article Review: Agriculture and Food

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Part One: Summary of Article

The article written by Rahul Gupta and Sumita Gupta Gangopadhyay addresses the needs of poor and malnourished individuals around the world. According to the authors, "six million children die of hunger each year, which is about 17,000 per day" (Gupta & Gangopadhyay, 2013). In addition to the vast number of people suffering from malnutrition and starvation, the vast divide between the rich and poor classes further compounds the issue. Gupta and Gangopadhyay claim that the social class divide makes it even more difficult for the poor who are in desperate need to gain access to food. This lack of availability of food for those in need has been labeled "food insecurity" (Gupta & Gangopadhyay, 2013).

Therefore, the article calls for the opposite, which is food security. The solution, then, is for food to be produced in the areas where it is most needed, such as the urban areas. Having food produced in the urban parts of a country and then distributed evenly to those most in need allows for "better management and promotion of urban food production" (Gupta & Gangopadhyay, 2013). The authors briefly introduce concepts that are aimed at helping the food insecurity issue such as improving waste recycling practices, providing jobs for landless agriculture workers, and establishing land within urban areas dedicated specifically to agriculture and food production.

While the authors of the article have several ideas that are intermittently touched upon throughout the article, the main focus is the need for land within urban areas that is designated as farmland. This farmland will be used to grow and process food that will then be distributed to the poorer citizens who are struggling to feed their families. The authors do not explain how this distribution would take place but instead go into a discussion of how such designated land would bode well for India, specifically.

Part Two: Critical Evaluation

At the beginning of the article, the authors discuss the matter of poverty-stricken individuals who have no access to food. They present a solution, which is having food produced in urban areas. However, the writers then jump to another topic altogether - waste recycling. The argument seems to be two completely different ideas and the point that the authors are trying to make is disturbed. This feels as though it is a form of trickery in that the reader is expecting to read about nutrition and famine interventions, but is instead being directed towards an argument for recycling. Soon after the point of recycling is introduced, the authors then switch again to a new topic of land being taken away from agricultural workers. While the authors may have good intentions in trying to combine the discussion of so many issues into one article, they do little to help facilitate the understanding of their point for the reader.

Eventually, the authors get around to making the point that the title of the article originally hinted towards as a point of discussion. That is, that cities and urban areas should make room for plots of land that are designated as strictly agriculture-only areas within the urban city boundaries. The authors state that the land is there, but urbanized cities are simply not using it. For example, the authors state that in nearly every urban city you will see vacant lots and abandoned buildings. It is these areas of land that the authors say should be used for designated food growth and processing. Unfortunately, the authors do not go into a detailed discussion of what it would entail acquiring these plots of land. The authors failed to acknowledge the complications of land ownership, purchasing the land from the owner, disputes, and negotiations if the owner of the land does not want to donate or sell the land, costs of legal fees and processes, and development of the land so that it is a viable, healthy foundation on which to establish agriculture that will produce healthy food for human consumption. The authors did not acknowledge the point that much of urbanized land is laden with debris, contamination, and sewage run-off.

There are other matters to consider as well, such as how the food will be processed and what the processing will entail. If the urbanized areas to manage to find and secure plots of land, ensure that healthy food can be grown, and eventually harvest healthy crops, the question then becomes what to do with the food. The simplest option would be to sell the food like fresh fruits and vegetables. However, the authors talk repeatedly about processing the food, but not about how this would be done, who would be responsible for the processing, if the processing job would be outsourced or if the authors envision a refinery somewhere in the urban area, and how all of this would be funded.

The authors introduce some interesting ideas throughout the piece – such as a brief two-paragraph discussion of a program in which citizens collect and exchange their garbage for health services – but do not back up their idealistic hopes with a factual or logical explanation. This leaves the article with little substance. The reader is left with the notion that the presented ideas would be nice to have in the real world, but without a thorough, thought out plan, they are just airy ideas that will not be translated into a solution that can help people in the real world. By leaving out so much crucial information, the authors appear to be poor authorities in the matter and resemble hopeful individuals who are simply brainstorming ideas for the sake of inspiring someone else in the world to do the real work.


Gupta, R. & Gangopadhyay, S. G. (2013). Urban food security through urban agriculture and waste recycling: Some lessons for India. Vikalpa, 38(3), 13-22