Jocelyn Parot, URGENCI
What have been the latest developments on both sides ? If direct sales farms don't need certification, then how is community organising up to the job of providing a reliable organic guarantee?
Speakers : Eva Torremocha, PGS Committee, IFOAM, Spain/France; Wallapa von Willenswaard, Towards Organic Asia, Thailand; Joy Daniel, Indian Institute Rural Development, India; Noémie Labrosse, Equiterre, Canada.
Around the globe, organic farmers and support organizations of varying kinds have been developing alternative certification programs, c a l l e d Participatory Guarantee Systems (PGS), that are better suited to small, direct-sales farms. While each program is unique and specific to its social context, they all have core principles based on sustainable, ecological practices, social justice, equity and gender balance.
The touchstone for the organic guarantee is farmer integrity and trust between farmers and their customers. PGS share these goals: to empower even the poorest and smallest-scale farmers to become active contributors to and beneficiaries of local sustainable development and to offer continuous education to farmers and other stakeholders in the system.
Community Supported Agriculture (CSA) is a connection between a nearby farmer and the people who eat the food that the farmer produces, summed up as “food producers + food consumers + commitment to one another = CSAs + untold possibilities.” In CSA, the consumers have a trust relationship with the farmers and sometimes even cooperate in the planning and marketing of the produce. CSAs work well where there is proximity between the farmers and consumers and when both are able to commit their time, resources and efforts to support one another.
Thus, PGS and CSA are similar in their overall objectives of improved livelihoods of organic farmers and increased access to safe food. There are possibilities to appropriately combine the principles of PGS to bring together the stakeholders of farming projects and the CSA approach of a close relationship between consumers and producers. This could help farmers and consumers to build on the opportunities presented by the CSA and PGS to better achieve the objectives.
Both PGS and CSA enhance transparent and shared decision-making processes and aim to share the responsibility for supporting sustainable agriculture practices. As such, it is essential to recognise these efforts to guarantee fair and organic standards by the very farmers and consumers it serves, encouraging and sometimes requiring direct participation of farmers and consumers. These peer-based solidarity procedures establish trust, empower farmers, provide education for farmers and non-farmers, improve local marketing networks and set the conditions for fair trade while providing a credible organic guarantee.
This 90-minute-workshop will offer an encounter between two movements that have been developing in parallel rather than jointly and have a lot to learn from each other. We will ask the speakers to underline the lessons learned from the PGS experience in order to see how PGS could be beneficially applied to CSA.