Healthy food hubs: building sustainable and resilient agri-food systems in Lima and Quito
COVID-19 has exposed the multidimensional connections between economic forces, public policies, and social inequalities. In Lima, Peru, and Quito, Ecuador, one of the main challenges authorities confronted in their response to the pandemic was providing food for millions of people while minimizing the risks of contagion. The pandemic revealed the lack of resilience of agri-food systems and related factors such as institutional and transportation limitations; disconnects between producers, authorities, and consumers; structural defects in commercial food chains; deficiencies in agroecological quality and healthy diets; and crowded marketplaces.
This project will promote the development of municipal "food hubs" — local neighbourhood platforms composed of networks where food is exchanged between farmers, food markets, consumer groups, and other strategic stakeholders. Building on the efforts made by the two cities to promote sustainable agri-food systems, the project aims to strengthen the resilience and inclusiveness of urban and peri-urban agri-food systems to withstand pandemic, economic, and climate shocks by building an understanding of the interconnected drivers of production and access to healthy food.
Using participatory action research, the project will generate scientific and social evidence to promote public policies that ensure nutritious food for vulnerable groups and enhance the resilience of local food markets. Activities include an assessment of current agri-food systems and identifying and improving best practices. The project will also assess food hubs as a novel policy response to enhance nutritional security. In the short term, it will help to improve the cities’ responses to the current challenges by engaging municipalities, farmers, and consumers in existing platforms.