Integrating Agriculture and Food Policy To Achieve Sustainable Peri-urban Fruit and Vegetable Production in Victoria, Australia
Efforts to increase fruit and vegetable consumption are a significant aspect of national approaches to preventive health. However, policy frameworks for increasing fruit and vegetable consumption rarely take an integrated food-systems approach that includes a focus on production. In this policy analysis and commentary we examine fruit and vegetable production in peri-urban areas of Melbourne in Victoria, Australia, and highlight the significance of emerging environmental and economic pressures on fruit and vegetable production. This examination will be of interest to other locations around the world also experiencing pressure on their peri-urban agriculture. These pressures suggest that the availability and affordability of fruit and vegetable supplies cannot be taken for granted, and that future initiatives to increase fruit and vegetable consumption should include a focus on sustainable production. Threats to production that include environmental pressures, together with the loss and cost of peri-urban agricultural land and a cost-price squeeze due to rising input costs and low farm-gate prices, act in combination to threaten the viability of the Victorian fruit and vegetable industries. We propose that policy initiatives to increase fruit and vegetable consumption should include measures to address the pressures facing production, and that the most effective policy responses are likely to be integrated approaches that aim to increase fruit and vegetable availability and affordability through innovative solutions to problems of production and distribution. Some brief examples of potential integrated policy solutions are identified to illustrate the possibilities and stimulate discussion.
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