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 November 15 2011

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The Korea workshop participants visit a supermarket in Seoul to observe how fresh fruits and vegetables are packed, delivered and displayed before they are finally bought by consumers.
Sustainable agriculture goes beyond mastering the science of farming. For it to happen, we have to dig deep into Asia’s rich colorful culture in order to learn more about culinary history, food anthropology, market and environmental forces, etc. and interweave all of these into our local food systems. This, more or less, sums up the message of the recently concluded international workshop on “Strengthening Local Food Systems for Sustainable Agriculture in Asia” held last October 17-21, 2011 in Seoul Korea.

Organized by FFTC and its partner, the National Agricultural Cooperative Federation (NACF), Korea, the said workshop gathered 11 resource speakers and paper presenters from seven countries in Asia (Taiwan, Indonesia, Vietnam, Philippines, Japan, Thailand and Korea).

The workshop’s guiding concept is clear: globalization of agriculture contributed to the availability of foods at relatively cheap price for consumers worldwide. However, it has also brought such negative impacts as concerns on food safety, damages in the ecosystem, and greenhouse gas emissions. Experts say people are recently paying more attention to the value of local food (locally grown and processed) from multiple dimensions, including environmental, economic, social and nutritional health so there is a need to strengthen local food systems in Asia. Local food systems refer to all processes that connect to make local food an essential component of the nation’s food supply system.

The workshop aims to provide scientists, policy makers, farmers and consumers with the opportunity to exchange relevant information and experiences on the development of local food systems in various Asian countries and;  to present the advantages and disadvantages of different local food systems in Asia and discuss promising and innovative food systems.

A common thread that was evident in the papers presented was actually summed up by one speaker who said “people today are exploring the fundamental values of local food supply from multiple dimensions, including social, economic, health and environment.” It was also reported that many governments around the world have set policy measures to construct an Alternative Agro Food Networks (AAFNs) or Short Food Supply Chains (SFSCs) to promote re-localization of agriculture under the umbrella of globalization.

To read the full article, go to our publications database and click on Newsletter 174