In Africa, many urban farmers apply cropping systems from rural backgrounds into their urban setting. This paper explores the possibility that “upgrading” cropping systems in African cities could boost economic empowerment for impoverished urban farmers. To these ends, the author conducted a case study of cropping systems in Cape Town, identifying the strengths and weaknesses of the predominant cropping system. Data collection consisted of in-depth interviews and focus-group discussions with a selection of 59 urban farmers as well as interviews with key informants from non-governmental organizations, and local government. The findings are interpreted using an asset-based community development lens, which suggests that local networks and locally sourced inputs, utensils, and infrastructure are fundamental to resilient urban agriculture in this context. A limitation of the case study method is in the generalisability of the findings to other contexts. This study may, however, be used as a guideline for conducting similar case studies in other contexts.
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