An Expanded View
of Urban Agriculture
in Ouled Ahmed
In September 2010, KDI was invited by Urban Agriculture Casablanca, a project by the German Federal Ministry of Education and Research, to participate in their research competition. Participants were asked to generate visionary development concepts and spatial solutions for linking urban-rural development using urban agriculture as a productive green infrastructure within the context of the Casablanca Master Plan. The new master plan of Casablanca calls for a greenbelt, social integration and urban agriculture. Douar Ouled Ahmed, a partly informal settlement that forms part of the peri-urban land surrounding Casablanca, was chosen as the research site.
During preliminary research, KDI identified a number of constraints in achieving the goal of Casablanca's Master Plan. While armed with a good design, the government does not have the land or the means to buy land in order to implement the Master Plan's programs. Private developers, who do have the resources, usually choose more profitable options, ignoring the environment and social cohesion. Finally, incorporating agriculture into current cultural practices may be difficult to sell to residents because access to water is limited and younger generations are less inclined to see themselves as farmers.
To address these complex problems KDI proposed an expanded view of agriculture, one that pairs farming with other things needed in the development of a vibrant city such as infrastructure, culture, recreational amenities, commercial development and housing. To supplement this expanded view KDI proposed a social enterprise program to promote schemes and systems that would promote the production, sales, and marketing of high-value goods from the fresh agricultural produce. These programs are based around an agribusiness model that took into account the topography and natural landscape of the area.
Development was encouraged closer to existing roads to create centers of density that would increase good infrastructure access for agribusiness and provide more opportunities for sustenance farming. Additionally, social enterprise, as part of the agricultural plan, will concurrently facilitate and utilize strong social networks. Tapping into this invaluable, local resource will allow the crop program to be sustainable by expanding into more entrepreneurial avenues. This diversification of the local industry would also connect the traditional view of "farming" to more attractive urban options.
KDI research and policy recommendations, "An Expanded View of Agriculture in Ouled Ahmed," were published in 2011 in the Technische Universitat Berlin, School VI Planning Building Environment's publication Urban Agriculture Casablanca; Design as an Integrative Factor of Research. They can also be found in TOPOS Magazine Edition 74, Building with Landscape, in the article "Urban Agriculture Casablanca, Design as an Integrative Factor of Research".