Rural bias? Reconnect urban and rural land use dynamics

What do we know about agriculture in urban city area and how can we connect urban and rural households and their livelihoods to the land in the modern context of urbanization? Gordon Prain a Senior Scientist for social and Health Sciences at the International Potato Centre presented on the topic of “The Dynamic livelihoods along the rural urban continuum – How can agriculture research and policy contribute?” as a keynote speech in the opening ceremony. Gordon Prain1 Discontinuum of urban and rural area He started with a statement that there is a discontinuum of urban and rural area because we tend to push and turn our back too much to disconnect the term rural and urban – by the policy and institutional definition. Culturally, people tend to define: urban is not agricultural and in many urban development planning in African countries, the colonial history and foreign administration tend to “chased agriculture out of cities”. The success of the Green Revolution started from 1960s promoted crops and cereals production, but it brought down food prices and in fact, only urban consumers benefited through cheaper food prices and left “poor people stay poor”. Urbanization of urban and rural households With dramatic growth of population in urban city area, rural population exit from traditional farming sector and move towards cities, which bring lots of socio-economic problems such as joblessness, food security of temporary and seasonal migration from the country side. In fact, urbanization does not happen only in the cities, but also in rural areas. A social study conducted in 1990s showed that up to 50% of income from rural households is non-agricultural and the emergence of “multi-local households” in developing countries, which means family members in a rural household engage in different income generating activities in multi-places. We can therefore see the livelihood and ecological linkages between cities and rural areas, and there is no consistent pattern that links locations to rural urban continuum. Mr. Prain gave an example of the city Lima, Peru. Within urban, peri-urban transition and peri-urban areas, organic wastes exported from the urban zone and they can be used as nutrient sinks for animal husbandry in both urban and rural zone, such as cattle herding. However, there have been health effects such as contaminants of heavy metals and pathogens generated from old urban settlements, and the high toxicity pesticides used in urban gardening. What we need is sustainable agriculture such as organic farming to promote biological pest control and organic fertilizers instead of synthetic chemicals and toxic pesticides. Rural -Urban continuum To reconnect urban and rural land use dynamics, initiatives and acknowledgement from scientific research communities are important. This must go hand in hand with local governments and intuitional support, which can support the process to breakdown administrative bureaucratic obstacles. Most of all, we have to re-establish the mutual trust feelings of urban consumers and rural food producers. international Potato Centre


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