ICLEI South Asia and the Pune Municipal Corporation (PMC) jointly organised a workshop on a study of Urban Food Systems, supported by the Food and Agriculture Organisation (FAO) of the United Nations and World Bank (WB), on the 22nd of November 2019, in Pune.
The UN’s FAO and WB are conducting an urban food study across 300 selected cities in the Asia-Pacific region, in which they wish to receive responses from government officials, institutes, NGOs, food markets and consumers on urban policies and regulations that effect food provisions and other interventions.
ICLEI South Asia is the implementing partner and is conducting this survey across 30 cities in India, six cities in Sri Lanka and three cities in the Maldives.
The project marks a new segment for local governments to look into the urban food chain system.
The workshop was inaugurated by Mr. Suhas Diwase, Commissioner of Agriculture and Project Director, SMART project; Mr. Adarsh Kumar, Senior Agribusiness Specialist, World Bank; and Dr. Bhushana Karandikar, Professor, Gokhale Institute of Politics and Economics, Pune.
Mr. Emani Kumar, Executive Director, ICLEI South Asia, welcomed the participants and explained the purpose of the workshop. Dr. Aziz Elbehri, Senior Economist, the UN’s FAO, joined via video conferencing and explained the objectives of the urban food systems study in Asia in his opening remarks.
In his address, Mr. Diwase said climate change and natural calamities were majorly affecting farmers, especially after the prolonged rains in Maharashtra this year. He emphasised on developing workable business models, domestic branding of agriculture produce and certification to transform the stagnant agricultural sector into a vibrant one. Dr. Karandikar brought up the issue of the importance of healthy food in Indian culture and said that food was about quality, accessibility and affordability. Interactive discussions at the workshop were aimed at finding solutions to strengthen the urban food system.
ICLEI South Asia then presented the outcomes of the study carried out till date and explained the next steps that are planned in future.
The workshop had two panel discussions on “Food production, food provision and distribution,” and “Food health, safety and nutrition programmes,” in which the stakeholders shared their knowledge and experiences through an open discussion.
The event was attended by more than 40 representatives from the government and the private sector in Pune, such as the animal husbandry department, PMC and the SMART project, as well as institutes, retail outlets and NGOs, besides restaurant owners, farmers, dairy and food processors and doctors.
The discussions covered issues such as the need for certification of agricultural produce, changing consumer behavior, discount-driven market, farmers’ issues and uninformed demand-supply ratio, besides rising obesity and health issues, adulteration and supply chains.