..Rosario has closed with immediate effect."
Green growth in Latin America and the Caribbean
Not to be missed is the week-long "Rosario growing roots" event in the Argentine town of Rosario on the Paraná River, 300 km northern of Buenos Aires. The last year's event featured walks through the kitchen orchards along the city's major railroad line, outdoor organoponics workshop and cookery courses in a 5-hectare landscaped area.
The event ended with a Sunday mass at Plaza Suecia on the banks of the river, where members of Rosario Gardeners' Network presented their organic vegetable and herbal remedies and the technology they use for working vertically, dehydrating products and reusing naerobic wastes. Rosario Grow Roots" has been an annual celebration since 2004 and is a window on rural farming in a town that is itself an international example of how farming can be successfully incorporated into the town.
The Rosario area, with 1.35 million people, is the third biggest conurbation in Argentina and one of the wealthiest. Only 13 years ago Rosario was a rusty manufacturing town in a country whose economies had crumbled. Much of the city's iron and steel, chemicals and paper mills were shut down and a third of the workers were out of work.
Despair in the slum areas of Rosario resulted in the plundering of hypermarkets by starving persons in quest of nourishment. The municipality reacted to the economic downturn in February 2002 with an agricultural program in cooperation with two important agricultural institutions. The Pro-Garden program was launched in 1990 to promote the home-grown and small-sized supply of clean foods, particularly in low-income areas of cities and towns.
One was Rosario-NGO, the Centre for Agro-ecological Production Studies (CEPAR), which has been promoting the cultivation of vegetables in the town' s shanty towns since 1987. Soon the original plans to equip 20 garden groups with implements and seed and then progressively expand the program to the whole town, were overcome by outreach.
Resources for machinery, resources and educational facilities were stepped up, and within two years some 800 communal vegetable orchards produced produce for an expected 40,000 in population. However, it also had a very clear idea to establish the concept of sustainable farming in the town. As a key requirement was the long-term accessibility of appropriate lands, several municipalities worked with the National University of Rosario in a study that found that 36 per cent of the municipality's territory was inactive.
The areas along railroads and motorways, low-lying, flood-prone suburbs and marked green belts, which could not be developed and thus used for agricultural purposes, were not realised due to insufficient financing. In September 2004, in order to give the growers safety, the local governor adopted a decree that introduced a quick procedure to formalise the granting of free municipal plots to the inhabitants for agricultural purposes.
Then the Secretariat for Town Planning worked with multinational partnerships to develop suggestions for the integration of farming into the Rosario city-planning. Meanwhile, the program implemented another important part of its long-term strategy: the introduction of a system for directly selling gardening products. The first municipal farmers' fair was inaugurated within six month of the program's launch, and two more were opened by 2004.
Rosario's first stage of the city' s agricultural program was so succesful that it won the 2004 UN-HABITAT International Award for Best Practices in Urban Developmen. A survey showed that some 10,000 low-income households were directly engaged in horticultural work and that with a turnover of up to USD 150 per months, the growers were well above the threshold of wealth.
For the great majority of them, farming was the primary means of livelihood. From this year, Rosario's municipal agricultural sector has developed together with Argentina's economical revival and the city's revival as a center for trade, industrial and service activities. Today, the number of townspeople involved in gardening is around 1,800, 250 of whom are full-time growers organised in the Rosario Gardeners' Network.
Over the last ten years, the municipal agricultural program has been consolidated. At the forefront were the safeguarding of areas and infrastructures for sustainable management on a large scale, the reduction of market chain length, the establishment of agro-industries and farmers' stores, the increase in the range and standard of organic products and the promotion of gardening as an integrated part of the effort to restore fallow areas, to establish green belts and to enhance the living conditions in deprived districts.
The whole program is based on a strong policy and institution building involvement, from the country to the area. Municipal industrial horticulturists are registered in the Register of Farmers, which provides them with aid, welfare and old-age pension. Pro Huerta is continuing to supply education, seeds and equipment, and the Santa Fe Province Council is funding the establishment of facilities as part of its efforts to help families and communities garden in rural and peri-urban areas.
Promoting municipal farming is a Rosario municipal governance strategy carried out by the Secretariat for Economic Development in collaboration with Pro-Huerta and CEPAR with the aim of "integrating men and woman into socially responsible businesses for the manufacture and transformation of foods for use by families, communities and markets". Municipal agricultural program has an estimated $380,000 per year and consists of 25 farmers and horticulturists.
The University' s work is backed by a large number of municipal, domestic and multinational governmental and non-governmental bodies, such as the RUAF, the Municipal Administration of Construction and Landscapes, the Faculties of Engineering, Architecture and Agricultural Sciences of the University of Rosario and the Rosario Foundation of the Civil and Political Sectors. ROSARIARIO is one of the few large Latin America towns that have fully integrated farming into their rural and rural policies.
The 2007-2017 land-use plan provides for a special regulation for the rural use of the town and its area. As part of the Metropolitan Strategic Plan 2008-2018, Rosario is constructing a "green tour" through and around the town, comprising large areas of communal and familial, commercially landscaped kitchen and fruit trees, multi-functional horticultural parklands and "productive barrios", where farming is incorporated into programs for the development of urban dwellings and the modernization of malls.
By 2014, the course had more than 30 hectares of agricultural lands for the cultivation of fruits, vegetable, medicinal and herbs. This built-up area comprises a verdant passage along the rail line through the north part of the town. The four parcels, which are 2 hectares in size, are surrounded by a fence and are provided with watering facilities and glasshouses and are used by local inhabitants and students for the cultivation of vegetable, ornamental and fragrant herbs.
Group-producing orchards are used for the intense cultivation of mixed vegetable crops and a broad palette of fragrant crops such as lemonella, salvia and rose marin. Each of the 2 hectares of garden is subdivided into lots of 500 to 1,000 square metres, each of which is managed by a grower or a group.
Flower, vegetable, herbs and medical crops are cultivated in smaller parcels, the so-called Huerta curtains, which cultivate crops, bushes and tree species that have been adjusted to the climate and growth of Rosario, and supply seed and seedlings for the city's horticultural area. Working with Pro-Huerta and the Gardeners' Network, the municipal agricultural program has also established classrooms, also known as Eco-Huertas, where residents can acquire the fundamentals of ecological foods at home.
At the heart of the Rosario walk are the city's five large, 72 -hectare landscape gardens used for farming, as well as for sporting, recreational and pedagogical use. The horticultural sector covers 24 hectares of the area, with an average plot area of 900 sq.m. for the use of some 280 industrial horticulturists and smaller parcels, on which 400 inhabitants cultivate their own use.
In 2008, one of the first parks in the town was opened on flood-prone land in Molino Blanco Sur, a district with 800 homes on the town' south border. On one side of the 5.6 hectares of orchards, there was a show room for small horticultural activities in front orchards, organophonic microgardens and sheltered forests.
Further gardens are located on 3 hectares of river lands approved by the National Road Authority in the Saladillo Sur district; within the 260 hectare Bosque de Los Constituyentes protected area; along the Rosario-Buenos Aires motorway in low-income areas of Migraflores barrios; and on 3 hectares of property that belongs to a retirement center, Hogar Español, on the outskirts of arable lands in the south-west of the town.
The parcels are awarded free of cost each year to growers, who in turn ensure that they are cultivated all year round using agro-ecological methods of harvest. Most of the growers come from low-income areas in the area. This includes former fishermen and labourers as well as many in-house immigrants from the countryside who have made a positive contribution to the program thanks to their agricultural skills and high yield.
The town' s farming activity is backed by an agro-ecological tree farm, which cultivates saplings, producing composts and fertilisers, and by the Ñanderoga Seed Bank, which preserves the seed of more than 600 indigenous and indigenous species of plants that have been specially selected for cultivation in Rosario. Almost all of Rosario's permanente farming land has been set up in demoted areas that were once regarded as unfit for humanity.
Various agro-ecological technologies have been used in the program to increase ground productivity, texture and levels of organics, inter alia through the cultivation of pulses and grass, as well as through the inclusion of crop residue, chippings, compost and slurry. The cultivation on the renovated countryside also follows the principle of agroecology, which encourages social, economic and ecologically sound farming.
You cultivate produce intensely in productive organoponics flower plots from substrates, preserve ground productivities with micro-composting, top dressing and mulch and rotate harvests to avoid pests and illness. This means that the vegetable and flavourings cultivated in the Rosario Garden are 100% biological and chemical-free.
Instead of being certified by local authorities, the municipal authorities have devised a system of "social certification", whereby the security and product qualitiy of the community, the horticultural networks, Pro-Huerta and a 450 consumer community, Vida Verde ("Green Life"), which was founded in 2008 to encourage equitable trading in organically produced localfoods.
There are pre-sales vegetable washers in all areas of the factory and the gardens are fitted with sun driers design by the Faculty of Mechanical Engineering of the University of Rosario. Furthermore, the municipal agricultural program has established three "social agro-industries" - small processors, administered by communal groups, providing work for those marginalized from the official labor markets and upgrading the value of agriproduction.
The products are directly from the nurseries, in week-long basket deliveries to the consumer, to the town' s canteens and through week-long "agrochemical-free vegetables fairs" set up in all six parts of the town. Mr Rosario has shown that it is possible to establish a viable municipal agricultural program in a very limited period of timeframe if there is the necessary commitment to politics and a clear socially inclusive policies.
It has changed and productively used the city's natural resource in just 12 years, redeveloping fallow land, restoring and revitalising urban areas and providing an alternate, sustained source of nourishing, chemical-free foods. This has also given important advantages to the city's low-income inhabitants, enabling them to become involved in urban planning and regional developement.
Civic peasants are widely held in high regard as custodians of the country, whose work enhances the quality of life and helps to ensure the nutritional safety of all people. Horticulturists are formally recognised as businessmen in Rosario's solidary sector, enabling them to seek local funds for their own investments.
Twenty of them were awarded certification as bio-gardeners by the Ministry of Labour, Employment and Social Security in 2013. The majority of Argentine soya beans are cultivated in the province of Santa Fe and exported in the municipality of Rosario. Soya beans were planted on some 70 000 hectares of agricultural land in Rosario in 2013, as opposed to only 3 600 hectares of pulses and veggies.
The horticultural sector around Rosario is under increased stress as growers are leasing their lands for soya, which is more cost-effective, easier to farm and has lower labor cost. The" Gemüsegürtel " of the town is also under threat of expanding. In order to alleviate the city's increased dependency on products cultivated in other parts of the countryside, the Rosario Metropolitan Strategic Plan provides for assistance for small-scale horticultural activities in semi-rural areas.
It aims to encourage the introduction of good manufacturing practice and to increase farmers' market accessibility through the establishment of small producers' organisations.