Cracking the Nut 2017: Reinforcing Food Systems to Meet Urban Demand
The United Nations has predicted that by 2050 more than 66 percent of the world’s population will be living in cities and urban areas, particularly in Asia and Africa. This shift from rural to urban living has increased the pressure on rural agricultural producers to meet the growing demand of urban areas for fresh food. This growing demand in conjunction with changing food preferences has created a major market opportunity for small rural producers to break into new, lucrative markets. However, in most cases, smallholders and SMEs lack access to the technology and innovation needed to increase production and expand into these urban settings.
Numerous organizations are working to implement projects focused on strengthening the linkages between rural supply and urban demand. In Kenya, the Kiambu Dairy Project is working to bring safe, high-quality milk to urban areas through the advent of Milk ATMs, which provide pasteurized milk to low-income communities at affordable prices. The Manq’a Project in Bolivia and Colombia is using smartphone technology to monitor local diet and food security while developing the supply chain between rural producers and urban restaurants. Across Africa and Asia, projects are being established that are specifically designed to strengthen market linkages, enable growth and introduce advantageous business models, making it possible for rural smallholders to get their goods to hungry, urban consumers.
New innovations in technology are also growing stronger linkages between rural suppliers and urban consumers. Digital financial technology is spreading access to finance for smallholders and SMEs in previously inaccessible and untapped regions. This has allowed farmers to take out loans and expand their operations in order to meet the growing demand of urban populations. Likewise, remote-sensing technology is revealing new arable land for farmers to grow, especially in regions with hard terrain and varied topography. Such advancements in technology, production and outreach are helping to foster the linkages necessary for future food security.
The application of these methods and technologies goes beyond regions and contexts; they are global and can be implemented in Africa, Asia, Latin America and other regions where food security is becoming an increasing prevalent issue. As populations continue to grow, it will only become more important to pioneer new ways to meet urban demand while providing rural suppliers with the means to do so.
Cracking the Nut 2017, a USAID-funded conference, will feature sessions on the various projects and approaches mentioned above as well as bring together additional experts from leading development organizations, such as RTI International, CRS and Chemonics, to discuss and share innovative ideas for furthering rural production and urban food security.
Interested in learning more? Check out www.crackingthenutconference.com and join us in Bangkok, Thailand on March 27-28 for Cracking the Nut 2017!