Cracking nuts in Thailand: our new Food Smart Cities approach

Cracking nuts in Thailand: our new Food Smart Cities approach

Nataly Pinto Alvaro
Nataly Pinto Alvaro
Directora de Programa Sistemas Alimentarios Sustentables y Resilientes | Ecuador

On March 27-28, VECO took the opportunity to present its ideas on Food Smart Cities at the Cracking the Nut Conference, in Bangkok, Thailand. The conference focuses on cracking the tough nuts associated with supporting food systems to meet urban demand.

How to facilitate links from rural to urban parts of a supply chain was the main focus of the conference. By showcasing various initiatives developed by the cities of Da Nang (Vietnam), Tegucigalpa (Honduras), Ghent (Belgium), Solo (Indonesia) and Quito (Ecuador), VECO highlighted the importance of sustainable urban food policies and rural-urban linkages, all in an interactive setting.

One example is the Metropolitan District of Quito home to nearly 2.5 million residents. In 2002, the municipality launched the “AGRUPAR” (Participatory Urban Agriculture) programme. The purpose of the programme is to enhance the food security of vulnerable city inhabitants, generating income from selling food surpluses, and as such increasing their resilience. To date, 2,700 vegetable gardens have been created in the urban, suburban and rural areas of the district, and 500,000 people have benefitted from the programme.

The city of Ghent also launched “Gent en Garde” in 2013, a food policy that includes five strategic goals to pave the way for a sustainable food system. The city currently promotes a “Thursday veggie day” and is working on a more sustainable school catering system, encouraging sourcing of food from local farmers. Furthermore, Ghent plans to avoid 100 tons of food waste and save 250 tons of CO2 through the FOOD SAVERS platform, which identifies food surplus to be then collected and redistributed to social and non-profit organizations.

The city of Danang receives 2-3 million tourists per year and the municipality has created an application to inform visitors about stores that provide safe food (free of pesticide residues).

Our Food Smart Cities Cluster is a partnership between cities, VECO´s regional offices and networks such as the RUAF Foundation (Global partnership on Sustainable Urban Agriculture and Food Systems) and RIMISP (the Latin American centre for rural development), VECO Belgium, VECO Andino, VECO Indonesia and VECO Vietnam offices, as well as delegates from the municipalities of Solo, Indonesia and Da Nang, Vietnam attended the Cracking the Nut Conference.

Our participation in the conference allowed us to present the Cluster in its initial phase, as well as raising its profile as we look to form partnerships with several cities and search for forums for learning and exchanging information. Likewise, other international organisations were keen to discuss joint action based on their expertise and needs regarding Food Smart Cities. We´ll keep you posted with all the latest developments!

Written by: Claudia Van Gool and Nataly Pinto