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FAO: Urbanisation poses risk to food security in Nigeria

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Managing urbanisation sustainably poses new challenges and opportunities to recast food and agriculture systems in ways that benefit both cities and the countryside, according to a new report presented by the International Food Policy Research Institute (IFPRI) and Food Agency Organization (FAO).

The report stated that meeting the rising urban demand for food can increase the incomes of the rural poor, most of whom derive their livelihoods from small and family farm agriculture.

FAO Director-General José Graziano da Silva, was quoted in the report saying, “This could generate much-needed employment and development prospects for the people who will remain in the countryside of developing countries while also making healthier food easier to access in cities.

“But growing urban demand will not automatically benefit small farmers,, so we must look for solutions that can seize on the opportunities, and avoid the downside of increasing urbanization.”

He noted the pressure the expected changes will put on nutritional needs, scarce natural resources, employment and income, migration and a host of other critical factors.

According to him, one way to encourage mutually beneficial developments for urban and rural areas alike is to develop value chains and make food systems that are more efficient and inclusive. Graziano da Silva noted that better roads, reliable and extensive electrification, refrigerated transportation and better storage facilities are all key to making that happen.

He noted that such transformation would also lead farmers to grow higher-value and more nutritious produce, which is essential for the proper nutrition of growing urban populations.

IFPRI’s Global Food Policy Report, to which FAO contributed the lead chapter, addresses a wide range of issues linked to urbanization. Growing urban populations will be especially visible in Africa, as a majority of the continent’s fast-growing population will be living in cities by 2030. Globally, some 2.5 billion more people will be living in urban areas than do today. Africa and Asia will account for 90 per cent of the increase.

“The urban poor are more vulnerable than their rural counterparts are to fluctuations in food prices.”

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