Global assessment of urban and peri-urban agriculture: irrigated and rainfed croplands

The role of urban agriculture in global food security is a topic of increasing discussion. Existing research on urban and peri-urban agriculture consists largely of case studies that frequently use disparate definitions of urban and peri-urban agriculture depending on the local context and study objectives. This lack of consistency makes quantification of the extent of this practice at the global scale difficult. This study instead integrates global data on croplands and urban extents using spatial overlay analysis to estimate the global area of urban and peri-urban irrigated and rainfed croplands. The global area of urban irrigated croplands was estimated at about 24 Mha (11.0 percent of all irrigated croplands) with a cropping intensity of 1.48. The global area of urban rainfed croplands found was approximately 44 Mha (4.7 percent of all rainfed croplands) with a cropping intensity of 1.03. These values were derived from the MIRCA2000 Maximum Monthly Cropped Area Grids for irrigated and rainfed crops and therefore their sum does not necessarily represent the total urban cropland area when the maximum extent of irrigated and rainfed croplands occurs in different months. Further analysis of croplands within 20 km of urban extents show that 60 and 35 percent of, respectively, all irrigated and rainfed croplands fall within this distance range.