Zero kilometer products are gaining momentum by closing the gap between producers and consumers, although they raise more than one question as cities and their demand for food grow.
Compared to the oranges from South Africa that are sold in Europe or the Norwegian salmon with which sushi is made around the world, the proximity products only move locally.
They do not travel thousands of kilometers until they reach the plate because, as their defenders argue, it is preferable to obtain them directly within a radius of less than 100 kilometers from where they are produced to reduce pollution in transport and strengthen the local economy, among other advantages.
However, the food chain is more complex than it seems. According to Nina Waldhauer, a researcher at the Dutch University of Wageningen, growers depend mostly on supplies and logistics.
"The short distance is not always necessarily better because if you have an inefficient production system close to a city and another more efficient but further away, the latter may be better," he tells Efe.
Because it is not only about traveling less during distribution, but also about consuming less energy and resources in other stages of the process such as harvesting, collection, packaging or storage.
Waldhauer also welcomes being able to have fresh and quality food that takes advantage of the central season of the countries with optimal production if the conditions are met to have stable prices and supply throughout the year.
Without wanting to opt for one option or the other, he gives the example of “agroparks” such as those in his country that combine agricultural production and processing functions in a small area and then reach several million consumers in the region.
The current challenge is how to modify commercial systems, with structures created over centuries, to feed the growing urban population, whose dimensions are dizzying: more than half of the planet's inhabitants live in cities, about 3.9 billion , and they are expected to be 60% by 2050.
As the specialist of the International Institute for Environment and Development, Cecilia Tacoli, explained this week in Rome, more attention needs to be paid to food security in urban areas of Africa and Asia, where population growth will be concentrated in the coming years. years.
In addition, on these two continents most of the people live in suburbs, suffering from problems such as overcrowding, insecurity and lack of basic services and sanitation.
To guarantee food in these circumstances, Tacoli called for creating more links between urban and rural environments, strengthening alliances and improving the technical capacities of local farmers, both formal and informal, so that they can better sell their products.
In the Colombian city of Medellín, food is more expensive for the poor population than for the richest because, while the latter can go to supermarkets and access offers, others have to settle for neighborhood stores where there are more intermediaries and prices go up.
The advisor of that city council Fernando Correa specified that they have launched a project to build four wholesale supply centers with a view to bringing local products to the poorest at affordable prices.
And they are working with local farmers to partner against the distribution oligopoly and market their products in those centers to get more out of it.
In the case of Sao Paulo, the strategy to reduce poverty among its more than twelve million inhabitants involves developing actions such as the public purchase of food from family farmers in the area and other nearby states that are later distributed in schools, according to the Brazilian counselor Christiane Araújo.
At the global level, nearly one billion people who grow crops in urban areas or the surrounding areas contribute to food, who "are part of the solution," the specialist from the UN Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO ) Guido Santini.
"The important thing is to create the conditions to be able to produce locally and for that you need to plan land use, create regulatory frameworks, facilitate the participation of small and medium-sized companies, and govern in a more inclusive way," he stressed.