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You are here: Home Magazines Global edition Rural–urban linkages

Rural–urban linkages

last modified Jun 19, 2015 12:10 PM

Rural–urban linkages connect people in cities with people in the countryside on a daily basis. The links are tangible and include markets, migration flows, knowledge exchange, leisure and tourism, ecosystem services, food production and consumption. Experiences show that they can contribute to sustainable, fair and resilient food systems, especially in a supportive political and institutional environment.

This ‘twin’ issue of Farming Matters and Urban Agriculture Magazine, produced together by ILEIA and the RUAF Foundation, looks at some existing experiences with strengthened rural–urban linkages and what they teach us about improving food systems for both consumers and agroecological farmers.

There is growing awareness that improved rural–urban linkages are an essential element in the necessary transition towards more sustainable and resilient food systems. This issue shows how agroecology is a consistent thread in building stronger connections between the rural and the urban. We see alternative marketing arrangements and the strength of rural identities in urban contexts for solidarity between farmers and urbanites. They show how the active engagement of citizens, both consumers and producers, is the best way to create new pathways towards the sustainable food systems we so urgently need.

Farming Matters | 31.2 | June 2015

Featured articles

Table of contents:

  • 3 - 3
    Dominic Machingura is an urban farmer in Harare, Zimbabwe. He is determined to prove the potential of urban agriculture to produce organic food and generate an income.
  • 5 - 5
    Deadline: 1 September 2015.
  • 6 - 8
    Rural–urban linkages connect people in cities with people in the countryside on a daily basis. The links are tangible and include markets, migration flows, knowledge exchange, leisure and tourism, ecosystem services, food production and consumption. To support sustainable, fair and resilient food systems, an enabling political and institutional environment is needed. This ‘twin’ issue of Farming Matters and Urban Agriculture Magazine, produced together by ILEIA and the RUAF Foundation, looks at some existing experiences with strengthened rural–urban linkages and what they teach us about improving food systems for both consumers and agroecological farmers.
  • 9 - 9
    Biraj Patnaik argues that the WTO must allow developing countries to address their people’s food security needs. He outlines the fundamental changes needed to reverse this injustice.
  • 10 - 13
    Community Supported Agriculture (CSA) is one of the best examples of a successful, alternative food distribution system, providing real income to producers and affordable healthy food for consumers. Food continues to be grown in peri-urban areas and trust between producers and consumers is strengthened. And China has not been left behind by this global movement, over 800 CSAs with 100,000 consumers are now contributing to new food systems in more than a dozen cities across the country.
  • 14 - 17
    The Harvest of Hope initiative is a vegetable box scheme in Cape Town, South Africa, set up as a social enterprise by a local ‘social profit organisation’. By promoting ecological urban farming, Abalimi Bezekhaya (meaning ‘Farmers of Home’ in Xhosa) improves income and household food security, and empowers disadvantaged households by building their confidence and capacities in farming. Building a sense of place and strengthening community ties, neither so common in South Africa’s urban areas, are keys for success of this approach.
  • 18 - 20
    In Latin America and the Caribbean, domestic workers make up 18% of the female labour force. Migrating from rural areas to work in the city, many maintain both rural and urban identities. With strong connections to their family’s farm on one hand, and playing a key role in buying and preparing food in urban households on the other, they occupy a strategic position within food systems. In Bolivia, increasingly well-organised unions of domestic workers are using this space to both empower their members and educate urban consumers about indigenous foods, healthy diets, agroecology, and the importance of supporting the small farm economy.
  • 21 - 21
    ‘New peasants’ – youth deciding to become farmers and choosing agroecological production methods – are a crucial response to the trend of rural outmigration. Sidney Ortun Flament and Bruno Macias see knowledge sharing and exchange as a means to support this movement.
  • 22 - 24
    The ancient Egyptian civilisation, founded upon the agriculture and peasantry of the Nile Valley, is famous worldwide. Yet, today peasantry in Egypt often denotes poverty and there is a widening social divide between farmers and urban consumers. But over the past ten years, and particularly since the revolution in 2011, Egyptian youth are leading the way in changing the face of Egyptian society. Nawaya is one such initiative that focuses on creating a ‘bridge’ between farming families and Cairo’s city dwellers.
  • 25 - 25
    Pablo Tittonell argues that it is high time we rethought the role of farms that straddle the rural–urban continuum. Peri-urban farming contributes to food security, buffers shocks and maintains agrobiodiversity.
  • 26 - 27
    There are many benefits from strong rural–urban linkages. Amongst others, consumers access healthy, ecologically produced food and build connections with producers, while farmers access fair markets that value their way of life. As seen here, it is for these reasons that both farmers and consumers work together to strengthen the connections between rural and urban.
  • 28 - 31
    In the past 50 years, about a quarter of Japan’s cultivated land has been lost, threatening food production, cultural landscapes and biodiversity. One of Japan’s most valued cultural landscapes includes rice terraces. In order to prevent them from abandonment, an innovative concept known as the Ownership System, was devised almost 25 years ago. This has today become a national movement based on the cooperation between rural and urban communities who combine food production with landscape conservation, cultural activities and environmental education.
  • 32 - 33
  • 34 - 36
    Participatory guarantee systems support farmers’ access to markets, and provide an alternative to often prohibitively expensive third-party certification. They also bring together networks of farmers and urban citizens who are redefining food production standards from the bottom up. In the past two years, the number of participatory guarantee systems across Brazil has more than doubled, resulting in better access to healthy food in the cities and more recognition for agroecological farmers.
  • 37 - 39
    Interview > Antonio Lattuca is the director of the urban agriculture programme in the city of Rosario, 300 km northwest of Buenos Aires. It began as a response to the 2002 economic crisis in Argentina, building upon existing initiatives that promoted vegetable gardening among families and with schools. It is now one of the most successful urban agriculture initiatives in South America, connected to consumer groups, educational institutes, public policy and the gastronomy movement, and offers a great model that many are learning from.
  • 40 - 42
    Initiatives based on ‘short chains’ between farmers and consumers are slowly but surely gaining ground in the Netherlands, a country with a strongly industrialised food system. Looking for ecological, healthy, and fresh food, urban consumers are now creating innovative channels that support local and organic food producers.
  • 43 - 45
    As cities continue to expand and ever more people migrate to urban areas, current unsustainable patterns of urbanisation and ineffective policies are no longer acceptable. The typical approaches that maintain the separation between rural and urban neglect all of the ways that connect both worlds. And nowhere else are rural and urban areas more linked than within the food system.
  • 46 - 47
    Members of the AgriCultures Network are working together to advance family farming and agroecology, drawing lessons from farmers’ fields, sharing knowledge, and working with social movements for policy change. Here are some of our latest updates.
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