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المنتدى العالمي المعني بالأمن الغذائي والتغذية

Re: Urbanization, Rural Transformation and Implications for Food Security - Online consultation on the background document to the CFS Forum

Florence Egal
Florence EgalFood Security and Nutrition expertItaly

Great contributions so far. Let me add to my initial contribution which aimed to ensure continuity of and synergy between relevant processes. I am surprised that the title of the paper does not explicitly refer to nutrition.  Thanks to Eileen for emphasizing that urban–rural linkages are a major determinant of malnutrition in rural areas, I quote:

In a bid to satisfy urban profitable markets, rural households are left with less nutritious food items or cannot afford food as the pricing is uniform for rural, urban and international buyers – check out available websites for on-line food marketing. Aggressive marketing of food markets in urban areas results in the cultivation of food items geared more towards the needs of the market than food and nutritional needs of people in rural areas.

The success of quinoa means that it has become a commercial food in the Andes and that local consumers cannot afford it any longer.

“Leads to marketing of “global” foods to rural people, especially over-processed food items with hard to comprehend food labels. The result is that rural households abandon familiar foods that previously provided for their nutritional security, for “modern” foods whose nutritional value they do not fully comprehend.” City foods are often perceived as more modern and have gained a status symbol. Since rice is now seen as the staple food in several Western Africa country, people are increasingly reluctant to eat millet or maize. And try petit mil or maize in Haiti… The role of often city-led food imports (like riz brisé in Sénégal) and food aid programmes  have resulted in diet distortion and increased vulnerability of both poor producers and consumers in rural and urban areas. 

It seems (again from the Andes) that increased use of cash vouchers (e.g. in conditional cash transfer programmes for nutrition) is leading beneficiary households to switch away from local products to buying from local supermarkets.  Which undermines the livelihood of local farmers and often results in unhealthy diets. On the other hand cities like New York condition the use of cash vouchers to purchasing fresh fruits and vegetables from farmers markets, benefitting  poor consumers health and providing a market to local farmers. 

An essential dimension of more sustainable food systems should therefore be locally appropriate nutrition education and communication (promotion of sustainable diets for for both urban and rural consumers). Professor Moya rightly emphasizes the importance of traditional/indigenous rural diets and related food practices. 

Dr. Omosa also rightly mentions increase purchase of land (and differences in bargaining power) in rural areas for business purposes. One should also mention recreational purposes (e.g. Cap Skirring in Casamance). And what about national parks?

Dr. Cramer bring up the urgent need to document  “non-market oriented, community food production practices in urban and peri-urban areas meant to prevent or avoid food insecurity. Knowledge management to generate practice-based evidence will be key in the development of policy guidance.

Dr. Vethaiya Balasubramanian raises the issue of rural employment. It is indeed essential that we ensure the protection and promotion of jobs and decent employment in rural areas and many of these jobs are related to food and agriculture in the broad sense. Food processing for local markets and commercialisation of niche products, environmental services and ecotourism should be considered alongside smallscale agriculture production.

So much for now. Have a nice day everybody.