11.1 GENERAL WORKSHOP FINDINGS
11.2 SPECIFIC WORKSHOP FINDINGS
This section summarizes the results of deliberations in 17 workshops that took place at the regional seminar. The first section groups together the general conclusions and recommendations that tend to be repeated in most of the full reports. The second section provides specific conclusions and recommendations as suggested by each individual workshop.
Most of the workshop participants agreed on the importance of the following:
1. The lack of awareness of FSDSs was frequently cited as a problem, and it was recommended that CLAs need to be sensitized as to the importance and workings of the urban food system.These general issues will not be repeated in the next section.
2. As a result of this lack of awareness, poor quality or missing information concerning urban FSDSs is a recurring problem that needs to be redressed through appropriate data collection and dissemination.
3. Food supply and distribution depends on solid transportation, storage and communication infrastructure, which is frequently lacking or of sub-standard quality in Asian cities. Hence, a number of the workshops suggested public and private investment in infrastructure development and improvement.
4. Both CLAs and central governments often overlook the participation of all stakeholders when it comes to planning and managing FSDSs. As a result, many workshops identified the need for a proactive, participatory mechanism as an important aspect of improving urban FSD.
11.2.1 Response to urbanization of food production in rural, periurban and urban areas
11.2.2 Strengthening rural-urban linkages
11.2.3 Extension services for feeding the cities
11.2.4 Water management issues in food production for feeding Asian cities
11.2.5 The supply of livestock products to Asian cities
11.2.6 Urban and periurban aquaculture
11.2.7 Wholesale market development
11.2.8 Retail outlet development
11.2.9 Municipal policies for the informal food sector
11.2.10 Fish marketing in Asian cities
11.2.11 Street foods in Asia: food safety and nutritional issues
11.2.12 Promoting private investments in FSD
11.2.13 FSD into planning at regional, metropolitan and urban levels
11.2.14 CLAs and food security: role and needs
11.2.15 Food security and nutritional well-being among the urban poor in Asia
11.2.16 Small and medium enterprises in food processing and distribution
11.2.17 The environmental impact of FSD activities
This section summarizes the results of each workshop into one paragraph with the intention of producing an integrated narrative. The first six workshops concentrated on urban food production and processing activities. The subsequent five workshops focused on food distribution concerns whereas the remainder dealt largely with FSD policies and programmes. Certainly, there is overlap between production, processing, distribution and policy areas of urban FSD but this grouping enabled discussions to emphasise certain aspects of the FSDS.
The principal recommendations for local authorities were to provide land-use rights for the urban poor to enable them to engage in urban and periurban agriculture (UPA) while, at the same time, assessing the feasibility of protecting agricultural land especially in periurban areas. Local authorities should promote the recycling of organic waste to provide valuable fertilisers (e.g. compost) for urban and periurban food production. Food processing technologies ought to be introduced and supported to boost value-addition, and regulatory measures pertaining to UPA should be ad hoc and flexible. Central governments should set up institutional frameworks for the promotion of stakeholders organizations in the areas of production and marketing. These frameworks would enable the private sector to play a role, particularly in the provisioning of needed microfinance, and as an investor in waste management, infrastructure and technology transfer. Central governments can and should coordinate various authorities. Finally, international organizations and donors should play a role in building the awareness of central and local governments of the importance of UPA.
Given the number of weak market and institutional linkages between rural and urban areas, as well as several weak elements in legislative and governmental frameworks, it is likely that several existing problems related to rural-urban linkages will exacerbate in the next ten years if no action is taken. These problems include increasing strain on the rural-urban food chain; decrease in agricultural productivity; reduced access of poor farmers to capital, technology and information; increased food losses and the long-term loss of sustainable lifestyles. All of this results in the continuing impoverishment of rural areas and an increasing cost of food for the urban consumer resulting in food insecurity for the poor in Asias cities. Workshop participants recommended that CLAs, in addition to investing in transportation and storage infrastructure, work with the private sector to develop food wholesale markets in both producing and consuming areas. There are, however, a number of needs to be addressed prior to undertaking such recommendations. These needs include having a long-term policy perspective to build partnerships between rural and urban actors and instituting incentives for strengthening these linkages.
Without the support of urban-based extension services, the likely outcome for Asian cities will be reduced and increasingly expensive food supplies and greater environmental contamination. The main solution to the problem as foreseen by the participants of the workshop is the establishment of a public urban-based extension service to provide education, training, communication and information to meet the food needs of cities. The public extension service, established by CLAs, must work in partnership with and support both the private sector and NGOs carrying out extension-type functions. The strategy recommended by workshop participants consists of three components. First, advocacy toward building awareness and national consensus among all levels of government and stakeholders concerning the significant role of education, training and communication in feeding cities. Second, strategic planning to identify relevant stakeholders, review existing policy and develop an action plan set up within a ten-year frame with mission statement, vision statement, guiding principles and strategic goals. Third, technical assistance at different stages in the development of a new urban-based extension system from international experts from both developing and developed countries.
Asian cities are facing severe water management problems due to their rapid growth. Present problems and constraints include: poor water management generally; lack of efficiency in irrigation and increased use of chemical inputs; lack of linkages and coordination between land-use planning and water resources management; and unsustainable exploitation of water resources are all resulting in pollution and less water for cities. If rapid urban population growth is not checked, water scarcity will increase through degradation of water resources (desertification, quality, etc.) and increased demand. Water and environmental policies provide new opportunities for CLAs to secure sustainable, good quality water supplies. Workshop participants call on CLAs to: create planning cells for land-use and water management; develop strategic plans for urban development combining land-use and water management; implement extension programmes for water conservation and water quality preservation; enforce health and environmental regulations and standards and mobilize resources for water service provision by encouraging private sector investment. The participants also recommend that central governments: 1) delineate the catchments for mega-cities for surface and groundwater and develop river basin management organizations; 2) reform institutional and legal frameworks for decentralization of land and water resource management; and 3) develop health and environmental standards for food production and processing. Finally, the private sector should invest capital resources and know-how in urban water service provision and environmental management.
In many large cities in Asia, city abattoirs work to greater capacity than they are designed for and are located too close to densely populated areas. They discharge wastes into rivers or in surrounding areas and create tremendous environmental pollution. In order to remedy the situation, the abattoirs must be closed and new ones, with efficient waste treatment facilities, established outside of residential areas. These new systems will require not only financial investment, but the cooperation and consent of end users (i.e. butcher associations). Technical assistance and cooperation will also be required to train operators of abattoirs and meat and dairy processing plants; upgrade sanitary control of livestock products and plan new abattoirs, city markets and cold storage facilities. Local needs as well as the availability of skilled personnel, spare parts and energy, etc. must be considered in the planning process.
Aquaculture is the fastest growing sector of the world food economy. Most Asian cities, however, are characterized by rapid urbanization and industrialization, which can constrain urban and periurban aquaculture. In these situations, the volume of fish directed to poorer populations will tend to decline, and a negative impact will be felt on the food security of these populations. On the other hand, there are likely to be positive indirect effects through the generally improved economic development of the production areas. Considering the conflict of resources it entails as well as its potential environmental and public health problems, it appears doubtful that urban aquaculture should be promoted. Experiences from Bangkok and Dhaka seem to support this view. The workshop participants suggested that since it is not appropriate to make a distinction between rural and periurban aquaculture, at future meetings concerning aquaculture in cities, city authorities and rural developers as well as aquaculture producers should be present. It would also be desirable to create associations for different types of aquaculture producers. Other recommendations include: gathering and disseminating information on the social, economic and environmental impacts of current trends in aquaculture; improving the monitoring of water quality in periurban areas; providing aquaculturalists with an enabling environment to prevent economic failure, environmental problems and other negative outcomes; land-use planning in which water and its uses in aquaculture are considered should be enacted and improved methodologies should be adopted to avoid pollution problems with wastewater fed aquaculture.
Given the rapid urban growth and inadequate physical infrastructure in most Asian cities as well as the traffic congestion and unsanitary trading practices at many existing markets, it is necessary to establish new wholesale markets in many Asian cities. The workshop explored the physical planning as well as the technical, financial, institutional and management issues that need to be considered when stakeholders are expanding or redeveloping their wholesale market systems. Recommendations for local authorities include: ensure management and financial autonomy is given to market management boards, ensure that urban plans identify wholesale markets as unique land-use requirements and fully involve traders, transporters and consumers in the market design process. Workshop participants also recommended that central governments ensure that there is close coordination between the various stakeholders. The involvement of the World Bank and Asian Development Bank was suggested in financing wholesale markets. These investments are also valuable as cross cutting activities linked to food for cities and urban planning issues.
Workshop participants considered that CLAs have a responsibility to ensure that adequate retail outlets, functioning in a clean and safe environment, were provided for the benefit of their populations. The key issues considered were: why CLAs should be involved in retail outlets development, what CLAs should do to improve and develop retail outlets and improve their availability and operation and what CLAs need to fulfil their retail outlet development responsibilities. Participants concluded that because of rapidly increasing urban populations and the need to accommodate increasing food needs, CLAs must be involved in the upgrading and development of retail marketing facilities in order to improve food safety and hygiene standards for the general population. CLAs also need to improve physical and economic access to basic food by low income consumers, create jobs (especially in the informal sector), provide environmental protection and improvement, improve the commercial conditions and competition under which retailing takes place and improve market transparency, improve food supplies to cities and towns by creating better access and recognise that retail market facilities can be important sources of revenue for CLAs.
The informal food sector (IFS) provides comestibles and income for many Asian urbanites. Problems include the lack of recognition of, information on, technical capacity to deal with and political will concerning the IFS. Other constraints relate to the contradictory and disintegrated policies and practices concerning the IFS in Asian cities, the emergence of conflicts over urban land-use and the lack of power of some CLAs to proactively engage this sector of the food system. Recommendations therefore include the need for CLAs to formally recognise the IFS through legislation and engage the sector using a participatory, consultative approach that provides needed services on a fee basis. Other suggestions include creating a municipal office on the IFS to coordinate data assembly, collection, policy making and implementation. CLAs need to employ creative policies that promote the IFS and deal with the sector as an issue with national and regional planning implications. Central governments ought to recognise the importance of the IFS for the urban poor and perhaps create an urban poor affairs office to play a coordinating role for local interventions. At the same time, central governments should devolve both political and fiscal power to the local level for the engagement of this sector and other urban poverty issues. Central governments should also play a role in consumer protection. Other stakeholders, such as the private sector, civil society organizations (CSOs), academics and consumers, should foster win-win solutions to share space, information and technical skills with the IFS.
Discussion in this workshop focused on how fish supply to large urban populations in Asia could be improved and what concrete actions could be recommended that would contribute to this process. The experiences of Dhaka, Bangladesh and to some extent Kathmandu, Nepal were the focus of discussion. Participants concluded that general problems include: unsatisfactory hygienic and sanitary conditions, lack of transparency in the market place, lack of appropriate infrastructure, insufficient information and inefficient information flows and lack of awareness of product safety issues for consumers. There is also an apparent insufficiency in fish retailing arrangements, particularly to low income consumers, and a lack of consumer sensitivity to health and sanitation issues. Workshop participants recommend that, while the capacity of authorities is often limited and alternative strategies and partnerships should be encouraged, CLAs and central governments should ensure: the availability and maintenance of technically adequate facilities for wholesale marketing, that low cost equipment and facilities are available for retailing to low income consumers, the provision of appropriate support services and the sensitization of stakeholders on hygiene and sanitary aspects of fish marketing.
Street foods are a source of inexpensive nutritious food, as well as income, for many Asian urbanites. Street foods tend to cater to a wide variety of consumers because they are ubiquitous and often serve a tasty, wide variety of traditional fast food. Problems with this sector include a lack of legal recognition, poor safety and hygiene leading to food contamination and waste disposal issues. There are also frequent disputes over urban space: specifically related to the obstruction of vehicular traffic. Challenges to overcome in the effort to address the above problems include a lack of reliable information on the sector, lack of regulation and the redress of land-use management disputes. Suggestions for concrete actions by participants in this workshop include: creating a focal point for all activities related to this sector; coordinated data collection; involvement of all stakeholders in a transparent and accountable policy making process; provision of training, physical facilities, food control infrastructure and other resources. Central governments ought to enact laws and regulations for street foods, create national networking committees on street food safety and provide adequate resources for the sector. The private sector can play an important role by helping to form street vendor organizations and providing training to vendors. The private sector can also assist with information gathering on street foods. Finally, international agencies can and should facilitate information exchange through the FAOs Regional Centre for Street Food Safety in Calcutta.
Demand for investment in FSD will increase in large Asian cities because of consistent and increasing opportunities for profit; growth in the number of supermarkets dealing directly with producers; increased demand for better preserved, cleaner packaged food; increasing technological demands and the need for transportation over longer distances. Some of the factors constraining private sector investment include inconsistent government policies and regulations making profits uncertain, lack of city planning information, poor roads, inability of processing facilities to manage timing of deliveries, perceived unwillingness of municipalities to give up monopoly positions in providing and operating markets and incorrect information about certain foods. The workshop participants suggested that national governments (in concert with international organizations) set food standards and quality controls for food handling services and that local governments implement and enforce them. Local governments should also establish regulations for wholesale market operation and make basic city planning information available to facilitate investment decisions. Local authorities in rural areas should provide assembly markets as a public good. National governments should provide legislation to protect producers and consumers from monopoly situations and ensure access to food by the poor. Private sector organizations can ensure that members share information and have access to information controlled by the public sector, lobby for legislation to change regulations and ensure that banks have sufficient information to enable them to make informed investment decisions within their sector.
Workshop participants drew on their experiences of cities in the region to reach the joint conclusion that FSDSs vary dramatically from city to city. In Dhaka, for example, there is a direct link between producers from the rural areas around the city and urban consumers. Because of this link, the supply of food matches the demand, including that of the urban poor. In other cities, for example in Kathmandu and Colombo, the system is highly dependent on intermediaries making prices significantly higher than the costs of production. In Malaysia, the FSDSs are mainly in the hands of the private sector with the government playing only a marginal role. The workshop participants came to the conclusion that a partnership between the public and private sectors in the functioning of urban FSDSs in Asia not only has many benefits, in many cases it is the only acceptable alternative because of the limited resources available to most CLAs. Participants concluded that central governments, international technical assistance and funding agencies, as well as donors, should contribute to the capacity building of governments in FSDSs. CLAs should adopt an informed strategic management approach to FSDS issues using consultations to enhance the participation of different stakeholders, including consumers, in the process. CLAs should also identify and set aside, as soon as possible, appropriate lands for essential FSDS development. Central government agencies should help local governments improve their capacities to deal with FSDS including designing a regulatory framework to facilitate the involvement of the private sector. International organizations should promote the sharing of information pertaining to FSDSs, and North-South and South-South cooperation would help to enhance the dissemination of good practices, technical know-how and communication instruments.
Workshop participants concluded that problems and constraints related to food security and CLAs include: conversion of agricultural land for urban land-use; lack of coordination between agencies; weak capabilities in urban land management and lack of appropriate forms of banking especially for the informal food sector. Participants considered that CLAs should therefore: strengthen capacities in urban land management; establish vertical and horizontal coordinating mechanisms among public agencies; expand their base of decision makers and promote partnerships among CLAs, civil society and the private sector. In order for CLAs to play an effective role in FSDSs, they need training for political leaders and CLA staff on food security issues and technical assistance and information sharing around policy formulation, planning and management of food security issues. North-South and South-South partnerships can assist by providing documentation and dissemination of good practices and regional data on food security in cities. These partnerships could also assist in the sharing of knowledge and experience among CLAs and the establishment of links with chambers of commerce, trade associations and agricultural colleges, etc.
The participants in this workshop concluded that the causes of food insecurity among the urban poor in Asia have to do with poverty itself therefore pointing to the link between nutritional well being and larger socio-economic concerns. Children, the unemployed and female-headed households are particularly at risk for food insecurity. In addition to understanding the coping strategies of the urban poor, programmes need to be targeted toward the most vulnerable groups to ensure nutritional needs are met. Examples include school lunch programmes, encouraging income-generating activities and food subsidies for the destitute. The report for this workshop recommended that food security policies and programmes be ensconced within wider frameworks that enhance the welfare of the urban poor such as health services, national action plans and social security measures.
Workshop participants identified several constraints and related recommendations related to micro, small and medium enterprises (MSMEs) in food processing and distribution. The problems include lack of recognition by government at various levels and related harassment of MSMEs in public places, poor financing and problems with marketing and distribution, an absence of constructive collaboration between MSMEs and other stakeholders and the lack of clear definitions of enterprise types for international cooperation. CLAs can help solve these problems by legally recognising MSMEs, providing them with access to services such as space, water, and sanitation on a fee-paying basis and developing participatory multistakeholder planning frameworks that include MSMEs. The private sector and CSOs can provide needed microfinancing. Microenterprises in particular need to create associations for the protection of their interests and marketing of their products. Central governments ought to adopt standardized definitions of enterprise types and advocate cooperation between MSMEs and government departments (such as the Ministry of Tourism) to organize opportunities for the development and promotion of these food enterprises. As women and children play a key role in food MSMEs, governments at various levels and donors should recognise their importance and garner their participation in decision making.
Participants in this workshop recommended the development of a virtual Knowledge Centre for Urban Food Security and Distribution as a databank for professionals involved in FSDS planning or research. They also advocated the development of materials for the use of the broader public to help people understand the current negative economic and environmental impacts of urban food security problems. The group also suggested that city administrators develop explicit lists of priorities for city development that address the economic, social and environmental aspects of food supply. Tools to assist them in addressing those priorities should be selected. Municipalities should focus their efforts on providing good markets and fair regulations with respect to food distribution and should oversee the implementation of those regulations. Municipalities should also arrange for the collection of solid waste and stimulate recycling. Workshop participants suggested these recommendations could be achieved through workshops, by providing resource material for planners and by encouraging study tours for professionals involved in FSDSs to other cities in the North and South. A Knowledge Centre would effectively underpin all these efforts. Cooperation could be further stimulated through CityNet and the regional urban agriculture networks.