Losing Farmland is Forever

26th August 2013 - FutureCapeTown.com

An excerpt from an article I wrote for FutureCapeTown.com. Read the full article here.

In Cape Town, the Philippi Horticultural Area, a major source of employment and food security is under threat from encroaching development. Future Cape Town’s Brett Petzer analyses the city’s about-face on supporting development in the area.

The fight for better cities is seldom as clearly defined as when water and food are at stake. Yet access to both hangs in the balance at the Philippi Horticultural Area – 3074ha of fertile land that has been the city’s breadbasket since the 19th century. This single block of land, tilled for decades, provides employment and food security in a drying and warming climate, as well as a large, strategic reserve aquifer unique in the Western Cape. Above all, though, the PHA – as a source of sustenance in close proximity to 3 million people – is an end product that other cities of the global South are desperately experimenting to create against the clock of climate change, rapid urbanisation and rising sea levels.

And yet the PHA is itself being devoured like a ripe fruit. Property developers Exclusive Access Trading 570 (Pty) Ltd (also known as MSP) and the unfortunately-named Rapicorp (who seek to develop 300ha and 472ha respectively) have won the latest hurdle in securing parts of the PHA for high-density housing.

Time will tell whether irreplaceable natural resources are converted into tract housing for the few at the expense of the many, or whether Cape Town continues to take its food future seriously. Failing to act will be, in the words of Nazeer Ahmed Sonday, chairperson of the PHA, a “design disaster of epic proportions”.

Photo credit: Nazeer Ahmed Sonday/Natalie McAskill.

› tags: space and power / spatial justice / urban agriculture / urbanist discourse /

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