CFS – Urbanization and Rural Transformatioin
Experiences and Effective Policy Approaches in Addressing Food Security and Nutrition in the Context of Changing Rural-Urban Dynamics
The scale and pace of urbanization is currently greater than it has ever been. Just over half of the global population lives in towns and cities, and this is expected to rise to 66% by 2050. Absolute numbers of rural inhabitants are projected to begin declining in the very near future[i]. The consequences of this for food production and consumption have been and will continue to be dramatic. This is of particular concern considering that many of the most rapidly urbanizing regions are counted among the least food secure. On the other hand, rural-urban linkages present an unprecedented opportunity for rural transformation.
Private sector efforts to address food security and nutrition issues in the context of changing rural-urban dynamics have generally clustered around 3 key priorities: facilitating access of rural producers to urban markets, providing services in underserved rural areas, and promoting urban farming solutions. The PSM would like to share information about these three areas illustrated by several case studies. Some of these case-studies will be indivually developed through the template form.
Access to markets
One of the most effective ways to accelerate rural transformation is to ensure that rural producers are able to access and participate in regional markets on favourable terms. Often, this means connecting them to the value chains that cater to rapidly growing demand in urban areas. Current trends include a marked increase in demand for high value agricultural products, in particular (e.g. fruits, vegetables, animal-source foods, including dairy) in cities. Helping rural producers take advantage of the opportunities presented by this can improve food security and nutrition outcomes in both rural and urban environments, ensuring improved access to divers diets in cities, and improved livelihoods in the countryside. Private sector actors can facilitate this in a number of ways, as attested by the following case study:
CASE-STUDY: Facilitating dissemination of market information through mobile technology: Esoko started in 2005 as a means of enabling the delivery of market prices via SMS, in support of work that FoodNet was doing with MTN in Uganda. In addition, Esoko set up a call centre to support local languages and address issues with literacy. Over time weather alerts, crop advice, and services linking buyers with sellers were added, potentially improving farmer incomes by roughly 10%. The company leverages its technical platform and field force in order to collect information, mostly using tablet devices and smartphones. Today, it also provides smallholders with access to inputs and finance through a virtual marketplace, while driving business for input dealers and financial service providers.
More information is available here: https://www.esoko.com/who-we-are/
Services to support rural-urban linkages
One of the greatest impediments to current processes of rural transformation is lack of access to services (financial, educational, etc…) in rural areas. There is great scope for private sector actors to step in and provide the necessary services. The following are some examples of this:
CASE-STUDY Haiti Hope Project: The Haiti Hope Project was a five-year, $9.5 million public-private partnership among businesses, multilateral development institutions, the U.S. Government and NGOs. The project aimed to create sustainable economic opportunities for Haitian mango farmers and their families by fostering rural transformation, in part through supporting linkages between rural producers and lucrative urban markets. Haiti Hope markedly increased the income of 25,000 Haitian mango farmers through training on production and marketing, access to finance and access to markets. The project helped to build new businesses, accelerate existing ones and build relationships in the industry that benefit farmers. In addition to coordinating between stakeholders, Haiti Hope delivered direct, hands-on training on mango tree production and care, harvesting techniques, quality control, negotiation and marketing, credit and financial management, traceability and food safety. The project also took a comprehensive approach to gender, ensuring not only equal participation by women and men, but also equitable benefits from project activities. Participation by gender was tracked for all services offered by the project, as were the benefits and adoption rates of new skills.
More information available here:
CASE-STUDY: Equipping rural youth with entrepreneurial skills: TechnoServe and The MasterCard Foundation have undertaken a four-year program to help rural young women and men in East Africa to develop the skills necessary to take advantage of the opportunities presented by current socio-economic trends. The Strengthening Rural Youth Development through Enterprise (STRYDE) program will deliver a comprehensive package of services such as skills training, business development and mentoring to young people ages 18 to 30 in Kenya, Rwanda and Uganda. The programme aims to equip 15,000 rural youth with the skills and knowledge to capitalize on economic opportunities and increase their incomes, thereby improving food security and nutritional outcomes in rural areas. Youth unemployment is a major problem in the three target countries, especially in rural areas. Many young people see farming as a last resort, and formal employment is difficult to find. Growing numbers of rural youth are migrating to urban areas. In response to this, the programme offers rural youth a three-month training program to develop entrepreneurship and career skills, along with an additional nine months of mentorship and counseling from a youth trainer. Participants also will gain practical business exposure through an experiential business exercise.
CASE-STUDY: Building an integrated urban-rural sanitation value chain: Sanergy has established a working business model that builds low-cost hygienic latrines in Kenya’s slums and franchises them out to local entrepreneurs. The Sanergy team then collects the waste daily, brings it to a central processing facility, and converts it to organic fertilizer for use by commercial farmers. This helps deal with health challenges in informal urban communities, while providing a cheap and organic source of fertilizers.
More information is available here: http://saner.gy/our-work/the-sanergy-model
With an ever greater proportion of the world’s population living in cities, urban farming is set to become an increasingly significant part of integrated food systems. It allows the greening of cities, educating urban populations about the origins of their food, and encouraging small-scale fresh produce production. Changing rural-urban dynamics mean that urban agriculture will need to be a part of any comprehensive food security and nutrition strategies. Examples of successful urban farming initiatives include:
Gotham Greens Urban Agriculture’s operation of rooftop greenhouses for food provision in several American metropolises: http://gothamgreens.com/our-farms/greenpoint
Brooklyn Grange’s intensive rooftop farming in New York City: https://www.brooklyngrangefarm.com/about-brooklyn-grange-1/
Aerofarm’s vertical farming without soil or natural light in New Jersey: http://aerofarms.com/2017/02/03/vertical-farm-growing-crops-city-without-soil-natural-light/
Biofilta’s vertical farming/water filtration systems: http://www.biofilta.com.au/
[i] UNDESA, World Urbanization Prospects, (New York: the United Nations, 2014), https://esa.un.org/unpd/wup/Publications/Files/WUP2014-Highlights.pdf