Forged in the right way, stronger rural-urban linkages can help address such trade-offs as they can help reduce the price of healthy foods, such as fresh fruit and vegetables, in urban markets through improved transportation or storage. Along with other nutrition policies, this can contribute to healthier diets for urban populations, particularly for the poor, who are often limited to cheaper, unhealthy, and less nutritious diet options. While urbanisation and modern food systems have lengthened supply chains and increased environmental pressures, better connected markets and actors along the food chain also allow for policies and regulatory frameworks that more consistently promote environmentally sustainable practices from farm to fork. Unfortunately, reality is still at quite some distance from consistently addressing these challenges, but the GFPR and SOFA reports provide directives that would lay the seeds for the urgently needed transformative change.

Rob Vos is Director of the Markets, Trade and Institutions Division of IFPRI and previously  Director of Agricultural Development Economics of FAO.