Building climate resilience in city region food systems
Publication date: 04-05-2022
The main goal of the project is to improve livelihoods and food security of city region dwellers in a changing climate context, by building sustainable and climate-resilient city region food systems, with a specific focus on smallholder producers.
Stage of the project
Why was this project started?
In Antananarivo, intense urban demographic growth is creating tensions over land use, putting urban and peri-urban agricultural land at risk. However, innovative agriculture practices increase each year within the city region boundaries. These initiatives anticipate a likely increase in the demand for local better-quality products, while the segmentation of the urban food market on quality criteria is poorly documented and Malagasy consumers have low purchasing power. It is not unrealistic to assume that a real market segment for local, organic or agroecological products will exist and increase within the next 10-15 years.
Local authorities have required a proactive technical support to structure the sector and support farmers and traders into this transition. Farmers who gradually switch to more resilient practices (eg. abandon the use of chemical inputs to improve soil or improving irrigation systems to fight drought) need support to ensure multi-scale innovation and to ensure access to a solid market. The FAO CRFS pilot project was set up in 2020 to support local authorities to develop a multi-stakeholder strategy to build a more resilient city region food system through adapted production systems at farm level, but also to enable multi-level dialogue to raise awareness among urban consumers of the interest and challenges of consuming agricultural products from sustainable agriculture, to generate and increase demand in urban areas.
The results of the project so far
• The CRFS for Antananarivo has been defined as a set of 66 municipalities (2 urban communes and 62 rural communes located less than 100 km from the city centre). This area produces a sufficient quantity and diversity of agricultural products that provides urban consumption. Identified priority commodities for the CRFS are 13: rice, leafy greens, tomatoes, onions, potatoes, eggs, dairy products, meats (beef, pork, freshwater fish, poultry (chicken gasy), broilers) and mandarin.
• CRFS analyses phase has provided important insights on how the food system is highly sensitive to extreme events, especially in rain-fed agriculture systems. In general, extreme weather events (cyclones) often causes irreparable damages in the infrastructure and productive areas. Prolonged humidity has impacts on pre-packaging/packaging and the overall quality of products to be stored in warehouses. This translates into significant food losses and consequently higher food prices. In addition, excessive temperature rise leads to rapid expiration of products in warehouses. Due to poor road infrastructure, food transport is impacted by the cutting of roads and power cuts lead to breaks in the cold chain, seriously affecting the safety and quality of food. Access to wholesale markets turns difficult for consumers.
• Priorities to strengthen the CRFS resilience will focus on: strengthening the resilience of the productive sector to ensure the availability of food for the population in urban areas, reducing the vulnerability of producers and rural populations (especially women and youth), supporting family farming, promoting urban and peri-urban resilient agriculture practices, promoting short food supply chains in times of crisis to minimize losses and avoid disruptions, establishing agricultural storage areas, creating and reorganizing municipal markets by promoting partnerships between the city council and small business entrepreneurs and promoting circular job creation.
What are specific, distinctive, strong elements in this project?
Climate risks and vulnerabilities are reduced in the CRFS by promoting integrated climate resilience strategies, policies, and action plans and by reinforcing production systems through multi-stakeholders’ engagement, from analysis to the implementation of activities.
Provision and development of approaches, capacities, and technologies through local adapted methodology and tools to assess and monitor risks and vulnerabilities to climate shocks and stresses and to define interventions to increase climate resilience in city region food systems (CRFS); technical and policy assistance provided to local stakeholders to develop integrated and participatory intervention strategies and policies aiming to increase the climate resilience of the CRFS; technical capacity to smallholder producers to implement specific measures to increase climate resilience.
Which specific lessons, do's and don'ts would you like to share? What would be suggestions for others when preparing or implementing the project in their own city?
The proposed approach relies on the enormous added value of a policy-building process based on the existing expertise and consolidated network of actors and operators: the policy process is based on real local capacities and ensures that the policy directions that are taken are anchored on the ground. This allows the work to continue, to be progressively strengthened and there is less risk of it being interrupted during periods of political transition (change of authorities, operational teams, etc.). For these strategies to work, they must be as participatory as possible. This demand for ensuring a more resilient and qualitative food system is the driving force behind the transformation of production and consumption patterns and can lead to the transformation of entire territories to meet the objective in the long-term. Cities are slowly gaining power in the role they play in the supply and consumption choices of consumers (COVID-19 having been an important trigger for this awareness). However, the work of consultation between the actors involved is very complex and far from successful in the case of Antananarivo, but it is by consolidating this network of actors with a real capacity for concrete action that the territorial model and the political model will be able to move forward together.
Have others adopted, or shown interest in adopting, your idea in their own area?
FAO supports other cities in adopting the CRFS approach. For more information: https://www.fao.org/in-action/food-for-cities-programme/pilotcities/wherewework/en
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