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Creating a new menu for food security policy

Cecilia Tacoli

Briefing, 4 pages

The nature of food consumption and production is changing. In the past, rural areas produced food primarily for cities. Urban residents often consumed more than they needed, while the poorest rural smallholders often went hungry. Today, rural areas still produce, but they are also consumers, and poor city dwellers now also suffer from hunger. In Kenyan cities, for example, 80 per cent of the low-income populations suffer food insecurity; meanwhile, in Vietnam — one of the world’s largest producers of rice — 55 per cent of rural households are net rice buyers. Given these long-term changes, policymakers must look at food security issues through the lenses of consumption and inclusion, and recognise the crucial interdependence between urbanisation and rural development. Unless food policy reflects this shifting terrain, the achievement of the Sustainable Development Goals and the New Urban Agenda will be put at risk.

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Urbanisation drives profound transformations in rural areas and in food systems, presenting both challenges and opportunities for poverty reduction, rural development and food security. Policies at the local, national, regional and global scales are of critical importance in shaping rural-urban linkages and the political economy of food systems.

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Urbanisation, rural-urban transformations and food systems