On the occasion of World Environmental Day, the United Nations agricultural agency said today that farming in and around urban areas needs to play a bigger role in feeding city populations. Growing, often impoverished urban populations face many difficulties in accessing fresh, nourishing food, according to the UN Food and Agricultural Agency (FAO). In addition to being expensive, 10 to 30 percent of produce is spoiled in transit due to long distances, bad roads and urban crowding. To ease the situation, FAO advocates expanding the practice of raising crops and small animals on vacant lots, gardens or roof-tops in the city, as well as just outside the city in the so-call peri-urban areas. Urban and peri-urban farms already supply food to about 700 million city dwellers – one quarter of the world’s urban population – and more could benefit if efficient methods were introduced, the agency said. Roof-top gardens of only one metre square introduced by an FAO project in Dakar, Senegal are yielding 18 to 30 kilos of tomatoes per year, it said. Celebrated 5 June, World Environment Day was established by the United Nations General Assembly in 1972 to mark the opening of the Stockholm Conference on the Human Environment.