Urban Food and Farming

Exploring changing urban diets and crucial pollination services.


We explore the changing nature of food procurement, preparation and consumption as regions undergo urbanization at varying degrees. Locating the study in the urban, peri-urban and rural areas of Baramati, Maharashtra, and urban Bangalore in Karnataka, this research explores the ways in which diets are responding to the urbanization processes.
We employ a gender lens to examine the inter- and intra- household changes in diets, and unpack the economic, social and cultural drivers of these changes. We also present some insights on the impact of COVID-19 lockdowns on diet-related vulnerabilities among people across rural, urban, and peri-urban areas. We find that while urbanization eases the access to food, it also intensifies the gendered differences in intra-household consumption of some food groups, affecting certain vulnerable groups disproportionately.

Pollination is a crucial ecosystem service responsible for about 40% of the global supply of nutrients. Unfortunately, there is growing evidence of a pollinator crisis from around the world. Loss of natural habitat exacerbated by intensive agricultural practices has lead to a significant decline in pollinators.
What is the pollinator situation in India? With just a few studies spanning spatial or temporal scales, it is difficult to paint an accurate picture. Additionally, most pollination-based research is centred on honey bees, grossly overlooking a large suite of non-honey bee species that are important pollinators of wild and cultivated plants. With disappearing green spaces and a growing demand for pollination service, it is important to understand how pollinators can be supported in human-dominated landscapes. But can bees be sustained in the highly altered city environment? This is a major concern as more and more land is getting built up and urban populations are growing at unprecedented rates.
We share findings from a study of bee diversity along a gradient of urbanization that brings to light the presence of lesser-known bees in Bengaluru. Yet another study conducted in a vegetable hub on the outskirts of Bengaluru demonstrates that facilitating pollinator diversity in a production landscape might be critical to coping with climatic vagaries. Our work brings to focus the pollinator-environment-health nexus. Against this backdrop, our online survey of diets of Bengalureans indicates a heavy dependence on pollinators. Based on these studies, we highlight the potential that cities hold for supporting pollinators and explore key pointers for designing pollinator-integrated urban landscapes.