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Food consumption, urbanisation and rural transformations in Southeast Asia

Bill Vorley

IIED Briefing

By 2050, nearly 63 per cent of the total population of Southeast Asia is expected to live in urban areas. Not only is urbanisation profoundly changing urban-rural relations, it is also shifting patterns of food consumption. Governments in the region are modernising food systems, in part to meet the needs of urban consumers for greater food quality and safety. But policies are not always based on evidence, and the focus on large-scale agro-industry and modern retail can undermine the informal economy, which is still important for food security and employment. An emerging narrative recognises the need to leverage urban-rural linkages for more inclusive development.

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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

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