CSA - Another Market System of Sustainable Agriculture - 中欧社会论坛 - China Europa Forum

CSA - Another Market System of Sustainable Agriculture

Authors: Shen Xun

Date: mai 2006

Published by Agro-Environment & Development

In the process of urbanisation, the relationship between urban residents and rural residents is drifting apart. Nearly all food consumed by urban residents have to be purchased from supermarkets or fresh markets. Consumers rarely meet the actual rural producers and do not understand the growth and processing of food, having increasing doubts in food production safety. The sales system of the market has allowed the middleman to gain benefits which were supposed to be used to support the farmers’ development of sustainable agriculture. This shows an urgent need to rebuild the friendly relations between farmers and consumers through the development of an alternative market, to promote the development of sustainable agriculture.

Alternative Market. The primary principle of this market is: products should determine the market, and not the other way round. It emphasises that products should first be sold within communities in which they have been planted, then considered to be sold in places which are further. Other principles include:

  • The production and sales process of products cannot be the cost of sacrificing the environment

  • Price has to be fair to both rural residents and consumers

  • The trade between rural residents and consumers is direct with no intermittent procedure

The value of the alternative market is: it allows the building of a friendship between rural residents consumers.

CSA in the acronym for Community Supported Agriculture. CSA is a model of cooperation between farms or farm groups and their supported communities whereby risks and benefits are shared. Consumers become users of farms or sometimes become one of the members and promise to give support throughout the season of growth in the farm. The amount pledged by users are usually monthly or seasonal, and sometimes annual. The farm provides a box of fresh seasonal agricultural produce weekly in return, delivering it directly to the customer or distributing it to the sales network. The core of CSA is that consumers place their deposit in advance and share the financial risk of planting failure, sharing both risks and benefits in coexistence.

Under this system, farm owners or farmers have a stable income and agricultural products have a stable market. Management cost, sales cost, packaging requirements and capital can also be reduced.

Members of the CSA have the rights to participate and decide the type of crops to be planted, they can check on the growth of crops at any time and can discuss with the farm owners or farmers on which agricultural crop to plant first for the next season.

The CSA can integrate producers and consumers, urban and rural communities, farm owners’ land and farms’ ecology, as well as the community’s consumers and their food products.

The CSA has rebuilt the friendly and trusting relationship between consumers and farmers, allowing farmers and consumers to work together. They can exchange ideas among one another and conceptualise solutions which have never been implemented, allowing the environment, the economy of local food products and the community to be sustainable. Of course, at the same time consumers will receive clean and healthy food. CSAs will ensure that their surroundings will be healthy.

Features of the CSA market system:

  • Supports sustainability

  • Win-win solution

  • Benefits urban areas and rural areas agriculture

  • CSAs allows the survival of small farms and family farms

  • Farms fix the price and not accept the fixed price

  • The CSA provides healthy food choice

  • Develops local economy

  • The CSA can improve rural income level

  • Provides opportunities for youths

  • Reduces waste

  • Reduces wastage of resources

  • Reduces changes to the agricultural environment

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