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December 21st, 2015

Urbanisation, rural transformations and food security: the view from China

Published by IIED,

This paper (PDF) of the International Institute of Development and Environment (IIED) elaborates on the food security transition that China has undergone over the last 35 years. It tries to understand the evolving axes of inequality with regard to access to affordable, safe and nutritious food in the context of changing rural–urban linkages. In China the production, distribution and consumption of food changed in this period due to rapid economic growth, urbanisation and industrialisation. In addition, rural-urban linkage have become denser and more complex, through the re-emerging of markets. The paper discusses how this change was addressed by policies aimed at ensuring adequate food provision and the regulation of quality and safety. It elaborates on the synergies and tensions between them such as the need to keep prices low while at the same time ensuring safety and nutritional quality. The authors argues that a focus on nutrition among poor and the rural-urban migrants is necessary but that the actual levels of risk vary widely between regions, the quality of the agricultural production environment, occupation and access to markets. All in all, it concludes that while some overarching principles for policy are needed, a ‘one size fits all’ policy in China will probably only waste resources and fail to adequately address the needs of particular populations and will fail to be responsive to rapidly changing risks.

Curated from pubs.iied.org