Urbanizing food systems: exploring opportunities for rural transformation

Urbanization is transforming food systems across sub-Saharan Africa and South Asia in conjunction with other dynamics such as rising average welfare. Where overall food demand is projected to increase approximately 2.5-fold in sub-Saharan Africa and 1.7-fold in South Asia, urban demand will rise two to four times more. In particular, the demand for high-value products such as dairy and processed foods will multiply. A further increase in economic inequality, in combination with the growing urban populations, is expected to pose a risk to future food security. Uncertainties in projections are large, however, because of interacting and unpredictable socio-economic and environmental developments and events, as well as the future implementation and operation of policies and investments. This paper shows that, potentially, the anticipated rise in food demand by 2050 can largely be met regionally, especially in most parts of India and sub-Saharan Africa, specifically southern Africa.

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