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Urban Food System

Food security concerns access to food, rather than mere availability of food.  With rare exceptions in today's world (for drought, war or famine conditions brought on by either), food is available at adequate levels to meet minimum needs of most populations and is often plentiful in urban areas. However, there are no guarantees that all segments of the population will have sufficient or timely access to these food supplies. Those most likely to be denied access are the poor, vulnerable, and more isolated members of society while the main factors for achieving a healthy diet are poverty and lack of fresh foods.  Poor households cannot regularly afford to buy perishable foods that contain essential micronutrients, which are especially important for children. But even the non-poor urban dwellers can face difficulties in finding adequate amounts of perishable fruits and vegetables. If the supply channels from countryside to city are inadequate, these products will periodically be in short supply, and costly.

Urban Food System Planning

The urban food system is so far not sufficiently reflected in the urban planning process in many countries. The urban food system connects to many other urban systems, notably the agricultural sector, the economy and ecological systems. Urban people are not passive food recipients; in many locations they are actively involved in food production. City planning should incorporate an understanding of household food security and nutrition conditions, agricultural research and economic forces. Other components, which also need proper urban planning, are the marketing and distribution of food from rural areas into and within cities.

Urban planning should aims at improving urban sustainability; enhancing the urban food system, especially food security; and avoiding or minimising conflicts between agriculture and other resource-use activities.

Urban planners can facilitate access by the poor, to urban land for food production by identifying appropriate zones for farming activities, encouraging the infrastructure developments needed by farmers, and implementing protective measures to provide land security.

Urban Food System Issues

bulletFood producers (seasonal, emergency, full-time and part-time), food consumers, how food affects consumers nutritional status, and the agricultural products that offer the best potential for efficient urban production
bulletConstraints on food producers (regarding land, safe water, water-recycling systems, credit, time, etc.) and how best to mitigate them, policies needed to increase employment and income from food production and processing and to improve the access of urban residents to food.
bulletStrategies for household food security among the most vulnerable urban populations and to increase food production potential under different agro-climatic conditions.
bulletFarming place in and contribution to urban land-use planning and sustainable city development. Farming activities issues (kinds of soils that are in use for agriculture, water availability and quality, distance to markets, etc.), compatibility with other urban activities and impact of farming activities on its neighbourhood.
bulletIntegration of urban food system into urban planning and policies to incorporate agriculture with other urban activities. Urban food systems development plans stakeholders. Use of under-utilised public lands for food production activities.