The Lyon basin (France) is a region of undeniable richness, with many kinds of agriculture occupying almost 10,000 hectares of land: livestock farming, market gardening, tree growing, cereal crops and horticulture. However, this balance between city and country is threatened by growing needs for irrigation and energy, the scarcity of agricultural land as the urban landscape spreads and grows denser and the rise in transport costs, hindering the development of local consumption channels.
Faced with these economic, social and environmental challenges, several players—the Rhône chamber of agriculture, the Rhône irrigation union (SMHAR in French), Blue Line Logistics, Eiffage Énergie/Route and SUEZ—have come together to develop a solution: the Innovative Peri-Urban Agriculture project (API in French). Launched in November 2018, the initiative aims to give new momentum to this agricultural ecosystem while meeting the requirements of food security and preserving local resources. It covers three main areas:
(1) balanced management of water resources based on upgrading the irrigation network to generate or store energy and the restocking of water tables;
(2) adapting agriculture to the food needs of Lyon’s residents in order to develop local channels, strengthen food autonomy and create links between citizen-consumers and farmers;
(3) establishing a less polluting last-mile delivery system thanks to river transport and electric vehicles to fight air pollution.
Three peri-urban areas have been selected for the pilot stage of the project currently under development. Located in the North, East and West of Lyon, these territories are particularly affected by the depletion of their water tables. They will therefore benefit from the expertise of the various partners in optimising water resources. API is intended to be implemented throughout the region. This initiative will ultimately provide a foundation for a new agricultural model that is more environmentally responsible and circular, promotes local produce and preserves a balance with urban areas. This balance is essential for the city’s future development.
This article was published in the seventh issue of open_resource magazine: "Sustainable food, sustainable planet"