China / Society

Community-supported agriculture would help China reduce agricultural pollution

By XU WEI ( Updated: 2015-11-20 19:53

More community-supported agricultural farms will help China reduce agricultural pollution and protect the rural environment, the leader of a small global farm coalition has said.

Andrea Calori, President of Urgenci, a global coalition of community-based agriculture networks, said more CSA farms in China will help reduce the use of pesticides and fertilizers, which account for the majority of agricultural pollution in China.

Community-supported agriculture, or CSA, refers to a particular network or association of individuals who have pledged to support one or more local farms, with growers and consumers sharing the risks and benefits of food production.

In April, China’s agricultural authority launched a five-year action plan to curb pollution in rural areas, setting a target of a zero increase in the use of fertilizers and pesticides by 2020.

"This is an overarching approach that respects the land and the ecosystem. In many countries we have very successful local food systems that can effectively protect the agro-ecology," he said at the sidelines of the 6th International CSA Conference, which is held in Beijing’s Shunyi district from Thursday to Saturday.

Calori said the community-oriented farms will help increase consumer confidence in agricultural produce, as the consumers would oversee the whole production and distribution process of agricultural products.

The CSA would allow a direct relationship between the producer and the consumer. It allows for a sense of community between the two parties, he said.

"It would also give the farmers more sense of dignity in their work as they would have a decent wage," he said.

Judith Hitchman, advocacy officer with Urgenci, said she was amazed to see the large number of CSA farms in China, and she believes there is still huge potential to build the network in the country.

"CSA is not something you can take and impose on any region. The only advice and support we can give is working with the local communities. It must be adapted to many regions. It has got to be indigenous," she said.

Hitchman noted that in some European countries such as France, the CSA farms have already accounted for 15 to 20 percent of the agricultural produce supply.

"In China, it is a very young network, and the potential is huge, even though the Chinese network still needs to improve. But I am thrilled to see so many people who are devoted to this model of agriculture here," she said.

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