Primary Sector Vital for Sustainable DevelopmentBy Stephanie Conejo | Fri, 07/08/2022 - 11:00
Our only constant is change...
Today, accelerated urbanization is considered a megatrend; however, the concentration of more people in less space has led to a significant change in distribution chains and the way we are expected to live for the next 100 years. This will cause not only greater demand for many types of products but also the need for greater food production by large companies, leaving small growers and producers as the last link in the food chain. It is impossible to speak of sustainable development without remarking on the contribution of the primary sector.
Urbanization must take into account sustainability and efficiency. It is quite chaotic that urbanization as a phenomenon is growing without considering the most important factors that are transforming humanity: demographic changes, climate change, resource scarcity, technological developments and changes in world economic powers. Cities generate the majority of the world’s economy; nevertheless, it is essential to share these benefits with the nearby environment that will cause a balance between the large concentration of people and their needs.
In this regard, the United Nations highlights: "Successful urbanization requires competent, sensitive and responsible governments, in charge of managing cities and urban expansion, as well as the appropriate use of information and communication technologies (ICTs) to provide a more efficient service delivery. It is necessary to promote institutional capacities and integrated approaches, in order to achieve urban sustainability.”
Currently, cities are home to more than half the world's population and by the middle of the century they will concentrate two-thirds of this population. Gradually, we are beginning to have a rural disconnection, which makes us unresponsive to the current situation of the agricultural sector. The world’s economies consider the food system as a generator of products and not as a series of entities that interact with the environment to establish the conditions of production that directly affect the quality and costs of the food that is consumed throughout the world and their impact on the degradation of the planet.
This massive migration, highly populated cities and empty rural areas mean that people often forget that basic food resources come from rural areas.
In addition, we begin to lose contact with the animal world and nature as a whole, and we often forget that the only means of subsistence and value generation in rural areas can be found in agriculture, livestock, hunting, fishing and all activities related to global ecosystems.
Not knowing how food life cycles function has resulted in diseases, low food quality and little nutritional value. According to the UN, in the last decade, more than 70 percent of the emerging diseases that have affected humans have originated from the food that the majority of the population in cities consumes.
The impact on these life and production cycles, such as the indiscriminate use of pesticides, to which pests have become resistant, results in the total loss of plots, which puts the availability of food at risk and reduces agricultural yields. This assures us that we will certainly face a food crisis in the coming years.
Agriculture and livestock cannot be developed in large cities, but we can create a healthy, efficient, equitable and generally sustainable relationship between food production mechanisms and large and medium-sized cities. Considering this, we can then design a world where the quality of food improves the health of our citizens and benefits the development of the countryside and its growers, who are generally over 50 years old.
To this impact chain, we must add 690 million people who suffer from hunger. In addition, approximately 135 million people are food insecure and in need of urgent humanitarian assistance.
We must reflect on this “accelerated urbanization” megatrend. We must focus on building a more sustainable and inclusive world by improving our food distribution processes to guarantee food security for future generations.
Why not generate wealth in these rural areas that do not yet have innovative technologies, but which present an opportunity for enormous growth with available labor as well as unused acreages?
Innovations in the agri-food sector as well as renewable energies and intelligent waste management, among others, are capable of both improving rural services and activating cities’ economies.
Small producers/growers need to adopt new technologies to make their processes more efficient and sustainable and as a result be able to migrate to new production systems. As a result, we could reduce the pollution generated by livestock and agriculture, create new opportunities for development in the primary sector and empower rural communities.
Finally, the primary sector provides the necessary food for a population that is seeing income growth and that will demand greater quantities and varieties of food.
We must reconsider whether the practices we carry out as consumers, companies and producers will ensure stability and easy access to food while stopping the degradation of our planet.
And if this can´t be accomplished, what should we do? How do we reconfigure our food system?