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Foro Global sobre Seguridad Alimentaria y Nutrición • Foro FSN

Re: Street food and urban and periurban agriculture and horticulture: perspectives for a strategic coalition towards food security

Kirit Patel
Kirit PatelMenno Simons College, University of WinnipegCanada

Although the street food sector plays an important role in urban food security, state-led food security measures in India have failed to provide a role for poor urban street food vendors to engage in the distribution and consumption of healthy foods. Instead, state-led food security schemes, whether production, distribution, or consumption oriented, have viewed the urban poor simply as beneficiaries of subsidized grain.

We would like to share our research paper published in recent issue (December) of Food Security journal based on our empirical research with street food vendors in Madurai, India. The paper discusses many questions, including rural-urban linkages, posed for discussion in this forum.

This case study of Madurai street vendors illustrates how the street food sector, operated by poor urban vendors selling ready-to-eat, healthy millet-based rural porridges in Madurai, has improved access to nutritious foods and created livelihood opportunities for the urban poor. The paper provides an overview of the informal street food sector, socioeconomic conditions of vendors, gender-based division of labour, as well as the food preferences and health awareness of consumers. The analysis of data indicates the marginalization of street food vendors under the existing policy environment in urban India. The paper discusses how the state, as a regulatory body and a service delivery agent, as well as research and development organizations can strengthen the rights and capabilities of street vendors to improve urban food security.

Bibliographic info of our paper:

Patel, K., Guenther, D., Wiebe, K. Seburn, R. (2014). Promoting food security and livelihoods for urban poor through the informal sector: a case study of street food vendors in Madurai, Tamil Nadu, India. Food Security, 6(6), 861-878. DOI: 10.1007/s12571-014-0391-z

I would appreciate comments and suggestions on our paper. If any member has problem in accessing my paper, please email me:

Thank you.

Kirit Patel