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Global Forum on Food Security and Nutrition • FSN Forum

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

Eileen Omosa
Eileen OmosaWe Grow IdeasCanada

Urbanization, rural transformations and implications for food and nutritional security

The most conspicuous challenge is how to introduce rural areas to “development” without converting them into under-developed urban areas

I read through the Background Document and noted arising issues without indicating the section they relate to in the Zero Document. Below find my input:

Concepts do matter

o   Linkages, partnerships, interdependencies; which one works better for reciprocal relationships between rural and urban areas?

o   I am for rural-urban partnerships/interdependencies rather than linkages. Partnerships based on reciprocity encourage each (rural, urban) to be best at what they produce (food) in exchange for what the other produces, rather than linkages which result in rural linked to urban for the sake of supplying urban markets (to meet urban needs).

Access to information and communication technologies

o   Rural areas no longer isolated islands.

§  Transformations witnessed in markets and marketing. For example, in many countries of Africa, educated young people who have entered into agricultural production as a business are very conversant with communication technologies, markets and marketing. 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.

Rural-urban linkages

o   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.

o   Available information indicates that more business people are moving to rural areas to purchase land, lease land or contract rural farmers for the production of “new” foods. The bargaining powers not being at par, rural land owners/users end up with a lower bargain – for example they lease out or sell their lands for mono-crops (biofuels, animal feeds) for outside markets.

o   Challenges in cases where rural areas increase production but lack the capability to market their products in urban settings = make losses to middle men.

o   Embracing of “half the technology; in cases where rural-based farmers in a bid to produce more for available markets, invest available resources on agricultural inputs and are left with limited resources for processing, value adding, packaging, etc. The result is food loss and waste at the different stages of production or to middlemen who offer a faster way to dispose of agricultural produce, especially perishables.

Loss of agricultural biodiversity/nutrition

o   When urban or international markets dictate the food varieties to be cultivated by rural farmers – the trend is more towards mono-cropping (economies of scale) than a diversity of food crops which previously provided for the nutritional needs of households.


o   Contributes to high levels of malnutrition in both rural and urban areas. For example the emerging global market for “organic” foods resulted in situations where organic foods from rural areas by-pass national urban and rural consumers for global markets that pay more for the foods.

o   A current move towards globalization of practice results in more uniformity than context specific policies and governance structures. The result is that many national governments implement the international guidelines wholesome - cumbersome to contextualize into local realities.

o   Who represents the “rural” in discussions where policy and legislation are formulated?