The world is urbanizing. In 2050 75% of the predicted 9 billion people will live in cities. The growth of the urban middle class with increasing purchasing power revolutionises food consumption in quality and quantity.
The reverse of this process is the marginalisation of rural areas through depopulation, ageing and brain drain. Still they are largely responsible for world food production. A radical innovation of the system and an increase in sustainable agricultural productivity is necessary.
The system innovation of Metropolitan Food Clusters (MFC) meets these challenges by aiming at vertical and horizontal integration of value chains. Components of the MFC-network are, at one end of the chain, production regions with Rural Transformation Centres that shift to sustainable production and precision agriculture. At the other end well developed agro logistics with Distribution and Consolidation Centres which are directly serving metropolitan and export markets. Agroparks form the linking pin and motor between the two. Agroparks are spatial clusters of several value chains in an industrial set up, situated close to the metropolis. They contain a variety of land independent production, processing, agrologistic and support functions. Between them principles of industrial ecology are being applied.
The MFC concept is aiming at sustainable development. It develops through a 'creative research by design’ process (co-design), in which Knowledge Institutes, Entrepreneurs, Non-Governmental and Governmental Organisations co-operate. Co-design focusses on the' hardware' of the MFC as well as on the more complicated 'orgware' aspects (co-operation structure, business development) and on time consuming 'software aspects’ (education and training, communication).