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When is enough, enough? Advocacy, evidence and criticism in the field of urban agriculture in South Africa


  • Nigel Webb


In South Africa, the advocacy of urban agriculture as a means of improving the plight of the urban poor has been a major theme in the literature since the early 1990s. Ironically, the criticism of that advocacy has almost as long a history. To elucidate these two themes, this paper investigates the evidence on which the advocacy is based, outlines the criticism of the advocacy, and analyses the responses to the criticism. It suggests that continued advocacy in the face of disconfirming evidence is misplaced and calls for greater caution. It observes that responses to the criticism have been weak and concludes that continued advocacy and continued criticism, in parallel, hamper debate. Unless there is engagement between the advocates and the critics, not only will the field of urban agriculture suffer, but so will the urban poor.

Suggested Citation

  • Nigel Webb, 2011. "When is enough, enough? Advocacy, evidence and criticism in the field of urban agriculture in South Africa," Development Southern Africa, Taylor & Francis Journals, vol. 28(2), pages 195-208.
  • Handle: RePEc:taf:deveza:v:28:y:2011:i:2:p:195-208
    DOI: 10.1080/0376835X.2011.570067

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    Cited by:

    1. Poulsen, Melissa N. & McNab, Philip R. & Clayton, Megan L. & Neff, Roni A., 2015. "A systematic review of urban agriculture and food security impacts in low-income countries," Food Policy, Elsevier, vol. 55(C), pages 131-146.
    2. Ward, Catherine D. & Shackleton, Charlie M., 2016. "Natural Resource Use, Incomes, and Poverty Along the Rural–Urban Continuum of Two Medium-Sized, South African Towns," World Development, Elsevier, vol. 78(C), pages 80-93.


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