Backyard Farming in Kingston, Jamaica

Based on an analysis of 32 ethnographic interviews and 200 survey interviews conducted in 2008 in Kingston, Jamaica, this research investigates the multiple challenges in urban farming identified by men and women who raise chicken in Kingston, as well as their strategies for success.

Whether practiced commercially or for subsistence purposes, urban farming has gained global appeal. As an anti-poverty strategy, it is regarded as an effective way to supplement household income, generate community activity, and contribute to food security. However, in underserved and impoverished neighborhoods in Kingston—where backyard chicken projects are popular, yet often fail—farmers struggle to compete against larger poultry producers and encounter unique challenges.

Inadequate waste disposal, limited access to running water and electricity, and crowded living spaces are some of the factors that make keeping and slaughtering chickens difficult. But farmers also experience a kind of invisibility: located in areas of the city that are inaccessible to outsiders due to high rates of crime and violence, urban farmers are often overlooked by policy makers and agricultural extension officers who could provide crucial services.

Rooted in feminist methodology and Amartya Sen’s capabilities approach, this research situates farmers and the stories they tell about their experiences as the primary research sources, providing a preliminary picture of the unique circumstances and basic demographic characteristics of a population that has never been counted.

This research was funded by a US Fulbright grant and would not have been possible without the invaluable guidance of faculty at the University of West Indies, Mona campus. If you are interested in learning more, please check this page again for publication updates or contact me via email: