So what we, working in development, need to focus on is the small or secondary cities where there may still be more “room” for improvement and where there is a need for investments and technical support. Many of these secondary urban areas are agricultural hubs, where primary production or raw materials may be consolidated and processed. Improving connectivity of these hubs with larger cities or markets can create job opportunities, and improving the food system within them can create a more sustainable and resilient environment for their residents.
In this respect, smaller, intermediate settlements and rural areas can constitute systems of “functional territories” when better integrated, and thus they support both sustainable urbanisation and sustainable food systems. The interaction of agricultural producers, input, processing and other farm services is more proximate in these combined rural and urban spaces. More remote rural areas and larger cities both depend on the functioning of the intermediate cities and rural areas.

Challenges and opportunities

Globally, sub-national and local governments are increasingly interested in creating stronger linkages with their surrounding areas, developing territorial food systems or incorporating food systems into urban planning.