Daily market in the town of Kpalimé in Togo.
Photo: Naftali Hilger/Laif
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Rapid global population growth is blurring the boundary between urban and rural. In reality, the traditional distribution of roles in agricultural and food production has given way to new structures. Regional planning ought to consider changed livelihoods in order to provide an adequate framework for development and to integrate food systems. A call for transformative change.

In 2007, the world population officially tipped over to be more urban, with the current estimate being 55 per cent living in urban areas. This development is certainly one of the reasons for much of investments in recent decades having had more focus on “urban development”, often leaving the rural population behind. The Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations (FAO) has focused its work on “rural development” since its foundation in 1945, concentrating on agricultural development which is considered mostly a rural activity, balancing this global trend towards the urban. But the fact of the matter is that agriculture was precisely the reason urbanisation began thousands of years ago, allowing people to settle in one location rather than having to move around to find food. However, when industrial revolution set in, it changed the rural-urban dynamics. Agricultural production became farther away from where people lived, and thus the image of agriculture being rural evolved.

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