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Greater Rural-Urban Interaction Encouraged to Address Food Related Challenges

02 February 2012

CANADA - A professor with Canadian Mennonite University is encouraging greater communication among rural and urban populations as a means of addressing conflict related to food production.

The topic "Our Contested Food System: Exploring Underlying Paradigms and Worldviews" will be discussed tomorrow as part of the University of Manitoba's advanced plant science seminar series.

Kenton Lobe, an instructor in International Development Studies with Canadian Mennonite University, observes we're in the midst of a global food crisis, in places where subsistence and peasant agriculture remain, real hunger still exists and mostly in rural areas where farming is the primary livelihood.

Kenton Lobe from the Canadian Mennonite University said: "If you ask what needs to be done, I think one of the things that needs to be done is for us to spend considerably more time examining the urban-rural question.

"For me, practically speaking, what it means is in March I'm organising a group of urban listeners to go out to rural Manitoba and to listen only to eight different farmers, answer the question of what is it that urban and townfolk need to understand about growing food, about marketing their food and how their underlying understanding of the land impacts their farming.

"Urban folks are making assumptions about farming and about farmers that are not always helpful, in terms of they're simply looking to make the biggest buck and the they don't care about the land, they're not concerned about what they're putting on the land or where that's going and I think that's a simplistic understanding of what's actually going on.

"In order to get at that I think we need to move urban folks into rural contexts, to have a real conversation with farmers about the struggles that they're facing. I think that's one of the ways in which we can address this."

Mr Lobe notes we currently produce enough in the world for everyone to have enough to eat but the fact that almost a billion people exist is situations of malnutrition alongside more than a billion who are considered clinically obese indicate something isn't working.

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