Plan-REFUGE aspires to understand and mitigate food inequities experienced by small-holder farmers in the Global South. Using a transdisciplinary approach we investigate how small-holder farmers in the Global South adapt their daily living practices in the face of a number of challenges including globalization and climate change. Lessons from on-the-ground experiences are used to inform purposeful community development and planning strategies. The project ensures a Global South to Global South learning exchange as well as capacity building of policy makers both locally and globally through publications and trainings. Plan-REFUGE is a collaborative effort that aims to have multiple study countries including Ghana, India, and Jamaica.
UB students, with support from the Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations and in collaboration with partners in India, developed a food systems plan in Karakulam, India.
In January 2020, as part of a graduate practicum in the Master of Urban Planning program, seven students from the University at Buffalo traveled to Thiruvananthapuram, one of the most rapidly urbanizing districts in the southern state of Kerala. In partnership with planning students from the College of Engineering Trivandrum (CET), a partner university in Kerala, UB students conducted three weeks of intensive field work in the village of Karakulam. Their work included site visits, Geographic Information Systems (GIS) mapping, household and retail store surveys, and stakeholder interviews.
UB students developed an original and comprehensive food system planning report for the village government of Karakulam. The report addresses everything from food production and supply chain logistics to food access and sustainability issues. The plan is intended to benefit the village of Karakulam directly, and also serve as an illustration of community food system planning in the Global South.
The MUP practicum was supervised by Dr. Samina Raja, and advised by a global team of faculty and researchers as well as civil society leaders. Faculty advisors included Dr. Yeeli Mui (Johns Hopkins University), Ms. Radhika Kumar (UB Food System Planning and Healthy Communities Lab), Dr. Priyanjali Prabhakaran (CET) and Dr. Shailaja Nair (CET). Civil society advisors included Mr. Jayakumar and Ms. Usha Jee from Thanal, an organization supporting environmental activists and environmental consciousness. The practicum complements ongoing work by the University at Buffalo Food Systems Planning and Healthy Communities Lab (UB Food Lab) and Thanal, a civil society organization, to build capacity for local government food systems planning in low and middle-income countries. Partial funding for the practicum comes from the UB Food Lab, the FAO, and the Community for Global Health Equity.