Rooftop Gardening For Greener Cities

Rooftop Gardening For Greener Cities

February 15, 2018

Rooftop Gardening For Greener Cities

Shykh Seraj with Sheikh Al Ahmad Nahid at the latter's rooftop garden in Chittagong. PHOTO: Hridoye Mati O Manush

Shykh Seraj

Rooftop farming is expanding throughout the country very fast.

Two and a half years ago, the initiative of featuring rooftop farming on the television was taken by Channel I's Hridoye Mati O Manush (Soil and People in Heart). In fact, this was my second attempt to expand rooftop agriculture across the country.

During the late 80's, I worked with rooftop gardening in Bangladesh Television's Mati O Manush. At that time, many people raised orchards to grow Kazi guava on their rooftops. Cultivation of other fruits and flowers on rooftops also started. Many housewives and working people used to find self-satisfaction by growing fruits and vegetables on rooftop gardens.

The work was very much out of passion. Later on, I did many TV programmes that featured even poultry farms on rooftops. Raising chicken on rooftops and balconies spread rapidly afterward. Many unemployed youths, housewives, even service-holders, and businessmen started investing in the poultry industry. I mentioned those stories in different articles and TV programmes. A huge expansion of rooftop farming followed countrywide. 

Today, more and more people are becoming interested in rooftop gardening, especially in city areas. Many have already turned their passion into a commercial endeavour. Their efforts are helping to make the cities greener, despite lack of cultivable lands there. Some people even rent others' roofs for the purpose. It's expanding also because people always prefer chemical-free organic vegetables and fruits. They can easily get organic and fresh food from rooftop gardening. Moreover, through the spread of greenery on the rooftop, these people are also contributing to creating a healthy environment in urban areas. 

Dhaka city has been facing the question of liveability for years. In the yearly residential report of UK's Economist Intelligence Unit, Dhaka stands at 137 among 140 cities of the world. If we want to get out of this situation, obviously Dhaka has to be turned green. The growing number of concrete structures in Dhaka means shrinking of greenery in the megacity.

In 1997, according to the decision of Kiyoto Protocol, Japan made it mandatory to grow spacious gardens on roofs to save the cities from the greenhouse effect. But very few people in our country think that the roof needs to be filled with greenery. When we took 'rooftop farming' as a regular TV programme, there were many issues in front of us. First, we can ensure the production of pure and nutritious vegetables and crops by small-scale rooftop agriculture. Secondly, we can contribute to a better environment by doing it. Thirdly, the roof can be a source of income. Fourthly, it can refresh the mind.

According to World Health Organization, every year 250 thousand people are getting affected by cancer in our country and 150 thousand die. The number is increasing day by day. According to International Agency for Research on Cancer (IARC) survey, the rate of death caused by cancer is 7.5% in Bangladesh at present. One of the many reasons for cancer is the consumption of poisonous food. We need to produce pure food to evade such poisoning. We need to turn to organic farming. To meet the family needs, many people are growing organic vegetables, fruits, and crops on their roofs.

I have seen that retired government and private service holders, businessmen and industrialists have made their leisure time productive by getting involved in rooftop agriculture. It gives them peace, they say. Even a section of people who don't have their own house or roof, convince their house owner and do gardening in one side of the roof or even in the balcony. It also provides nutrition for the family. Besides cultivating fruits and vegetables and raising chickens, pigeons, turkeys etc, some are cultivating fish in drums set on roofs. This might sound strange, even goats, sheep, and cows are being raised on rooftops.

I have seen an inspiring scene recently. Sheikh Al Ahmad Nahid, assistant professor of Fisheries Department of Chittagong Veterinary and Animal Sciences University, established an integrated rooftop agriculture research centre on the roof at their campus quarters. Many students successfully do research there. Along with vegetables and fruits, there is a reputable research centre for aquarium fish reproduction. He is finding new technologies to spread rooftop agriculture nationwide. This is a great milestone for our rooftop farming mission. 

Those who are building a new home can take advice from experts to make the roof suitable for small-scale agriculture. Those who don't have their own home can do it by persuading their house owner or do it in the balcony. I have seen people of different cities becoming interested in rooftop agriculture. To lessen the pollution of the city and increase the oxygen in the air, rooftop agriculture can be a nice solution. In this case, the government has a role to play. For example, they can make it mandatory to arrange solar panel and greenery while constructing a building or house. Everyone will make their roof green. I hope that the day is not far when every city including Dhaka will have a layer of greenery.   

Eco-Activist Joost Bakker Plans Rooftop Urban Farm For Shopping Center

Eco-Activist Joost Bakker Plans Rooftop Urban Farm For Shopping Center

AVA Awards 10 Land Parcels to Vegetable Farmers With Innovative Concepts

AVA Awards 10 Land Parcels to Vegetable Farmers With Innovative Concepts