Pilot City – Hyderabad (India)

Hyderabad is the capital city of the state of Andhra Pradesh in India. It has an estimated population of 7 million making it India’s fifth-largest metropolitan area.  It is known for its rich history, architecture, food and multilingual culture, and considered to be the modern hub of Information Technology and Biotechnology. The total estimated city area is now at 650 km2, with the recent addition of 12 municipalities (2007). Together they from the Greater Hyderabad Municipal Corporation (GHMC).

About the city

Hyderabad is the capital city of the Indian state of Andhra Pradesh . Situated in the region of Andhra Pradesh. Hyderabad has an estimated metropolitan population of 6.1 million (61 lakh), making it India’s sixth-largest metropolitan area. Hyderabad is known for its rich history, culture and architecture representing its unique character as a meeting point for North and South India, and its multilingual culture, both geographically and culturally, is also one of the most developed cities in the country. It is now a hub of Information Technology (IT) and Biotechnology (BT).

The city’s population in 2006 was estimated to be 5.7 million, while the population of the greater metropolitan area was estimated at over 8.3 million. Hinduism and Islam are the most widely practiced religions in the city. The main languages spoken are Telugu, Urdu and Hindi. English is widely used in business, commerce and governance. It is connected by air, rail and road to all major cities of the country and has direct international connections to many cities worldwide.

Hyderabad and Secunderabad are the twin cities, separated by the Husain Sagar (bound by the ‘Tank Bund’), a man-made lake.


  • Summer (May): Average maximum Temperature: 40 degrees Celsius. Average minimum: 25 degrees Celsius.
  • Winter (December): Average maximum Temperature: 28 degrees Celsius. Average minimum: 13 degrees Celsius.
  • Highest ever recorded: 45.6 degrees Celsius; Lowest ever recorded: 6.1 degrees Celsius.
  • Annual precipitation: About 79 cm.
  • Average Annual Rain Fall arround 734 mm in 46 rainy days.
  • Geological system: Archean.
  • Soil: Red Sandy, with areas of Black Cotton soil.
  • Surrounding terrain: Rocky/hilly. (The region around Hyderabad is known for its beautiful rock formations. There are many rock formation enthusiasts in the city.)
  • Climatic: Tropical Wet and Dry (Koppen).


With annual precipitation of 790 mm, and temperatures ranging from 13 – 28 degrees on average, the peripheral areas of the city are studded with agricultural landscapes. Rice, fodder and vegetables are the predominant crops that are visible.  However, with the soaring land prices, there has been rapid conversion of Agriculture land and other waste lands to commercial real estate lands.  While the GHMC offers a global lifestyle to its citizens, with the modern amenities, GHMC and the HUDA are also committed to create a “Greener Hyderabad” promoting a number of campaigns for a healthy environment.

Around 13.48% of population (540,000) lives below poverty line.  Hyderabad is characterized by a very significant presence of urban poor with a growing urban poverty profile.  Slum settlements have multiplied over decades and the living condition have not improved (as per 2001 census the number of slum was around 1631).  Environmental declines, vehicular population, in adequate basic services and infrastructures in the poor settlements have hit the poor hardest.  Slums are scattered across the city and in the surrounding municipalities with high population density.  The number of people inhabiting slums is estimated to be around two million.   Poverty has a visible gender dimension too.  The incidence of poverty among women is higher and female-headed households constitute the poorest of the poor.  The main source of income among poor is daily wage labour in infrastructure companies and informal sectors like small industries or contracts.  While Hyderabad has flourishing service industry especially IT and most of the educated young generation works in the service sector.

The rapid development within the last 10 years, Hyderabad has attracted a large rural population to the city looking for employment.  While the estimates show that 1/3 of the population as being categorized as underserved, active programs are trying to address critical issues under different government programs.

Since many low-income communities are clearly visible in the landscape, these communities can benefit from a program like the RUAF-CFF.  Household food security and nutritional security, which will at least address some issues and make them self-reliant at least in vegetable commodities, can be promoted.

Partners in the City

Following Institutions are the Partners of IWMI in Hyderabad

  • NAARM : National Academy of Agriculture Research Management
  • EPTRI : Environment Protection Training and Research Institution
  • HMWSSB : Hyderabad Metro Water Supply and Sewage Board
  • IRDAS : Institute of Resource Development And Social management.
  • HUDA : Hyderabad Urban Development Authority
  • Forest department, Government of Andhra Pradesh
  • Horticulture department, Government of Andhra Pradesh
  • Animal Husbandry department, Government of Andhra Pradesh
  • Department of Fisheries, Government of Andhra Pradesh
  • Municipal Corporation of Hyderabad
  • Department of Agriculture, Government of Andhra Pradesh

Urban Agriculture in Hyderabad

Major agricultural activities within the city of Hyderabad are fodder and vegetable production, urban forestry and dairy/milk production.  Water for irrigation of crops is primarily from the Musi River which flows through the city, which also supports a number of other livelihood activities.  With the wastewater generated from the city, the river is has been transformed into a perennial river, supporting an array of other crops as well. In a limited way, Jowar, Maize, Horsegram, Ground Nut and vegetable gardening are being grown in the periurban fringes of the city. The massive campaign on “Greener Hyderabad” has supported the plantation of 10 lakh trees, 2 lakh avenue plantations along colony roads with the help of colony welfare associations.  Planting of open spaces with seedlings in schools, government institutions and private organizations has significantly focused on greening the city.

As per the Landsat image February 2005 about 2108 ha para grass in and around Hyderabad and 10,000 ha of paddy along the “Musi River Corridor” are irrigated with waste water.  Initiatives such as social forestry programme and fodder cultivation have increased income and improve purchasing power but it is yet to relate whether this would directly translate to food security.

Apart from the current setting there are many opportunities that can be explored within Greener Hyderabad concept that can include urban agriculture.  Growing vegetables in open spaces to meet the market demand of perishable vegetables.  Low space options including vertical and aerial cultivation methods in low space areas.  Home gardens in low income communities for food and income security, School and institutional gardens, edible landscaping, Hydroponics and Organoponics, Rainwater harvesting, grey water reuse, treated wastewater re-use and composting of municipal solid waste.

One of the former periurban municipalities Serilingampally, now part of the west zone of GHMC, was chosen as the pilot area in Hyderabad to explore the potentional and constrains of Agriculture in Hyderabad.  Serilingampally is one of the fastest growing zones of Hyderabad, where a large number of IT and real estate units have their offices located with in it. Serilingampally was choices based on strong support from Serilingampally municipal authority, rapidly urbanising municipality with increase demand with perishable demand, high proportion of below poverty line (BPL), retained areas of Agriculture production and existing programmes for urban poor supported by the government of Andhra Pradesh.

Serilingampally, a municipality that was absorbed into the GHMC in 2007, had a reasonable level of agricultural practices that included crops such as paddy rice, maize and leafy vegetable.  Increasingly, high land values, and fast urbanization has resulted in the reduction of agriculture land, and the labor being drawn into industry and services.   In general, nearly 80% of the vegetable supply to the municipality is brought from other neighboring    peri-urban areas and increasingly the low-income communities were the hardest hit with these changes.  In an attempt to address the issues of food security the RUAF-CFF collaborated with a low income community (Surabhi Colony) in the development of household kitchen gardens and a residential school supporting(school garden) the education of poor and backward class girl students.

Area under agriculture in Serilingampally in 2003 as represented by good earth images was 5.57 km2.  In 2006 based on ground truth this area has decreased by 61.5% to only 2.0 km2 or 2.01% of the municipal area.  Agricultural was dominated by Paddy in Kharif session and small scale vegetable production such as brinjal, tomato and leafy vegetables.  The results of customer and vendor survey in 2006 indicate that the lingampally vegetable market entirely depended on external agriculture production to meet nutritionally demand and as such food insecure.  Serilingampally residences and particularly low income households have limited financial buffering capacity to counteract externalities that impact on the cost of vegetables and fruits.  Externalities impacting on vegetables and fruit prices include, increasing fuel prices reduce supply due to climatic factor and continued loses of agriculture land in the inter land of Hyderabad due to urbanized Hyderabad.

Surabhi Colony

Surabhi colony

The residents in Surabhi colony originate from Surabhi Village, Kaddapaha District of Andhra Pradesh.  Primarily traditional folk theater artists, due to the declining interest in traditional folk theatre, particularly in urban areas such as Hyderabad, the community faced impending livelihood insecurity. In response to the declining socio-economic situation, the state government of Andhra Pradesh established the colony.

Basic Information about Surabhi Colony

Total House holds : 240
Total Members : 960 (Average 4 members in   a family)
Total Colony Area : 5 Acres
House hold area : 140 Sq. Yards
1260 Sq. Feet(40 feet x 31.5 feet)
Govt. Constructed area : 10 feet x 17.5 feet
Roof area : 11.4 feet x 18.3 feet
Hand Pumps : 7
Taps : 46

In Serilingampally, RUAF-CFF collaborated with colony members of Surabhi, in the development of urban agriculture on open spaces. In this relatively poor area, the community faces impending livelihood insecurity with temporary employment options alternated with dry seasons of unemployment during year.

The community members through stakeholder awareness meetings were convinced to participate in using their available open lands to develop Kitchen Garden.  More than 65 members from the colony, mostly women are engaged in cultivating the vegetables in their respective homes in that 35 members are actively participating.  The communities members have develop kitchen gardens, using low space cultivation methods including vertical and aerial cultivation methods. They have integrated the kitchen garden with composting of kitchen waste and rainwater harvesting structures to collect water from roof area to use in dry season when water is insufficient for irrigation. Implements, seeds, vermi compost, neem oil and cake, sprayers, rainwater harvesting structures and compost bins were provided to the colony members as part of the pilot project.

To date 3852.4 ft2 of land area in 35 households have been cultivated in the Surabhi colony.  An average yield of 3.8 kg of vegetables per household/month was harvested in the initial phase, the average monthly saving per household around Rs. 84 ($2) per month. A notable increase in the varieties of vegetables consumed is also a positive outcome. Although these figures look very small, the households are happy to have organically grown fresh vegetables and are ready to carry on sharing, and exchanging seed material with each other.  Also they are encouraged to use vertical structures to expand the areas of cultivation.  While forming SHGs are at infancy, this is seen as the sustainable method to keep the kitchen gardens growing in the future.

School garden

School Garden

Andhra Pradesh Social Welfare Residential Girls High School and Junior College located at Gowlidoddi Village in Serilingampally Municipality is spread over an area of 24 acres. The School is headed by the Principal and supported with 20 teaching staff, 5 non teaching staff and 5 supporting staff. This residential school absorbs 800 students from low-income families from the surrounding districts of Hyderabad mostly from the Rangareddy District.

With the help of RUAF-CFF project, one-fourth of an acre of land was cultivated with a view to supplementing the daily vegetable and fruit requirements and also exposing the children to the importance of a balanced nutrition comprising vegetables and fruits. Forty five students were introduced to a learning package on kitchen gardening for household food security, waste recycling for reducing pollution, better sanitation practices for better health. An increased awareness and enthusiasm was noted and a key factor was the leadership of a keen teacher who was willing to take on the responsibility.

Multi Stakeholder Action Planning

RUAF Cities Farming for the Future Programme (RUAF-CFF) facilitated participatory and multi-stakeholder policy formulation and action planning (MPAP) on urban agriculture in Serilingampally.

Participatory and Multi-stakeholder Policy formulation and Action Planning (MPAP ) is a process of collaboration between the urban authorities with citizens, farmers, civil organisations, private sector companies and other governmental entities in the preparation, implementation and evaluation of policies and related action plans. This approach brings together major stakeholders in the form of communication, dialogue, co-determination of issues, joint decision making, planning and implementation of projects. The main output of a MPAP is the joint development of a City Strategic Agenda on urban agriculture.

In 2005, RUAF stimulated the creation of a multi-stakeholder platform, or “enabling team” as it is called in Hyderabad. Key stakeholders included Municipal Corporation of Hyderabad (MCH) now Greater Hyderabad Municipal Corporation (GHMC), the Department of Horticulture, Environment Protection Training and Research Institute (EPTRI), Hyderabad Urban Development Authority (Urban Forestry Division), the Department of Horticulture, , Hyderabad Metro Water Supply and Sewerage Board (HMWSSB), Department of Animal husbandry and Department of Agriculture. A study on the scale and scope of urban agriculture in Hyderabad was undertaken, to sensitize the stakeholders at both, action and policy level, but the enabling team also decided that RUAF should start at pilot scale rather than considering whole of Hyderabad.  There fore, in 2006 Serilingampally was selected as pilot municipality to explore the potentional of urban agriculture in rapidly growing cities like Hyderabad.

Supported by the Serilingampally Municipality, the MPAP process was started. The members of Surabhi colony (mainly women) were identified as the direct stakeholders under the project, who participated in community asset mapping, mobilization and seed project formulation process.

A different stages were stake holders were consulted for information gardening and to provide support to the project.  However, key stakeholders throughout the process have been the community members from Surabhi colony and the school administration of Andhra Pradesh Social Welfare Residential Girls High School and Junior College.  Serilingampally circle -1 Municipal authority along with Institutions such as EPTRI, Roda Mistry College of Social work, Acharya N G Ranga Agriculture University (ANGRAU), APUSP, and more recently GHMC’s Advertisement, Parks, Estate, Aasara & IT and Urban Poverty Alleviation and Livelihood cell have been consulted at a different stages of the multistake holder process.

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