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Agriculture and Human Values

, Volume 29, Issue 4, pp 481–492 | Cite as

Potential and observed food flows in a Chinese city: a case study of Tianjin

  • Dingyang ZhouEmail author
  • Hirotaka Matsuda
  • Yuji Hara
  • Kazuhiko Takeuchi
Article

Abstract

This study examines the food flow in Tianjin, divided into three areas (urban, suburban, and rural), as a case study to gain a better understanding of local and regional food flows and ecosystem performance. The study has the following objectives: (1) to evaluate the capacity for self-sufficiency within Tianjin’s administrative boundary by estimating a self-sufficiency ratio (SSR) using statistical data at both the city and local scales, (2) to estimate food flow at the city scale from field surveys of the local markets and statistics provided by the local government, and (3) to examine the real flows of the two primary types of arable crops (cereal grains and vegetables) at the local level by conducting semi-structured household interviews. The results of this study show that Tianjin has experienced a rapid increase of self-sufficiency capacity since the 1980s, and it appears to have the capacity to support the citizens within its borders. Rural areas have had a surplus in all of the studied food categories since the 1980s, and suburban areas have a history of high estimated SSR for vegetables, poultry, and fish. However, a low degree of locally sourced product flow was observed in this study. Most of the local cereal crops were consumed in the agricultural production areas, but 70 % of the vegetables produced in the rural areas flowed outside of Tianjin and did not support Tianjin local consumption. To reduce its vulnerability to food security issues and to promote a more environmentally desirable local food system, Tianjin needs to recognize the high productivity of its local ecosystem and reduce its dependence on other remote ecosystems for its food needs. A stronger relationship between urban and rural areas should also be established.

Keywords

Food flow Ecosystem Self-sufficiency Urban–rural linkage Sustainability Tianjin 

Abbreviation

SSR

Self-sufficiency ratio

Notes

Acknowledgments

This study was funded by Mitsui & Co., Ltd. Environment Fund, and by the “Centre of Excellence for Asian Conservation Ecology as a Basis of Human-Nature Mutualism,” a Global Centre of Excellence Program of the Japan Society for the Promotion of Science, the Ministry of Education, Culture, Sports, Science and Technology of Japan. The authors also acknowledge the useful comments and suggestions from Professor Minjun Shi, Professor Toshiya Okubo, Dr. Satoro Okubo, Dr. Tomoo Okayasu, and Dr. Kazuaki Tsuchiya on this study. All anonymous reviewers and editors are thanked for their contributions in improving the manuscript.

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Copyright information

© Springer Science+Business Media B.V. 2012

Authors and Affiliations

  • Dingyang Zhou
    • 1
    Email author
  • Hirotaka Matsuda
    • 2
  • Yuji Hara
    • 3
  • Kazuhiko Takeuchi
    • 4
  1. 1.College of Resources Science and TechnologyBeijing Normal UniversityBeijingChina
  2. 2.Transdisciplinary Initiative for Global Sustainability, Integrated Research System for Sustainability ScienceThe University of TokyoTokyoJapan
  3. 3.Department of Environmental SystemsWakayama UniversityWakayama CityJapan
  4. 4.Integrated Research System for Sustainability ScienceThe University of TokyoTokyoJapan

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