Upcoming symposium focuses on importance of urban food systems to global food security

K-State Olathe Communications and K-State Alumni Communications

An upcoming symposium at Kansas State University Olathe will spotlight urban food systems and the role they play in global food security. (Photo: K-State Communications and Marketing)

By 2050, the world’s population is estimated to increase by 2 billion, accompanied by a need for farmers to produce 70 percent to 100 percent more food. That essentially adds up to more food in the next three decades than in all of recorded history. Meeting this demand presents a variety of challenges, and also a need to shift the way we look at food production. A new buzzword is “urban agriculture” — the small-scale production and growth of food in urban areas.  

The 2016 Urban Food Systems Symposium — June 22-25 at the Kansas State University Olathe campus — will take a look at food issues in large cities. It is targeted to academic and research-oriented professionals, making it the first known symposium of its kind. The event will spotlight urban food systems and the role they play in global food security. 

“Urban food systems are not a new topic in the U.S. and in many countries, but it is a new focus area,” said Eleni Pliakoni, assistant professor of urban food production and postharvest handling at K-State Olathe, and one of the symposium’s organizers. “By 2025, it is estimated that 7 billion people will live in cities worldwide. This increases the importance of establishing sustainable and alternative food production practices in urban areas so these communities can produce safe and nutritious fruits, vegetables and proteins.”

Throughout the three-day symposium, several of the world's foremost urban food systems experts will lead discussions about production systems, policy and planning, nutrition and human health, urban farmer education, community and economic development, and food security. The event is designed for researchers, students, extension faculty, nonprofit administrators, community organizers and urban food systems experts who can share knowledge, practices and research. 

Olathe's Research and Extension Center uses high tunnel greenhouses to grow strawberries for K-State's Urban Food Systems program. (Photo: K-State Olathe Communications)
“We want to bring in scientists and experts in urban food systems and members of the food industry to define the critical importance of urban food systems to sustain the global food system,” Pliakoni said. 

The symposium is a partnership with Kansas State University and Cultivate Kansas City, a nonprofit organization working to increase food availability and urban farms for a healthy local food system in the Greater Kansas City area. The symposium is funded through sponsorships and a 2015 Global Food Systems Innovation Grant through K-State, which has a more than 150-year heritage in global food systems research. K-State Olathe offers a master of science concentration in urban food systems — the first of its kind in the U.S. — through the department of horticulture, forestry and recreation resources.

Although regular registration has now closed, you can still register for the event on site. Learn more

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