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AMAP(Associations pour le maintien d'une agriculture paysanne )

How to introduce environmental concerns in everyday life? That’s the kind of questions which more and more Europeans focus on. The growing success of Community-supported agriculture (called AMAP in French) is a good example of this evolution.

A CSA consists of a community of individuals who pledge support to a farming operation where the growers and consumers share the risks and benefits of food production. During one season (usually there are two CSA periods in a year: spring/summer and fall/winter), consumers give a regular amount of money to a grower who give them back a basket of products. They should agree on the quantity and diversity of products the basket should contain. The basket can be composed of fruits, vegetables, eggs, cheese and meat. Diversity is very important because it allows consumers to eat a wide variety of foods meanwhile it also extends the duration of the season and limits the risks arising from climatic hazards and potential health problems.

Unlike the classical distribution system, there is no willing to standardize products. Everything that is produced is consumed (whereas in classical distribution system, it may be up to 60% of the crop remaining in the field). Avoiding mess, packaging, marketing and bypassing a lot of intermediaries, CSAs are really competitive compared to classical distribution system. Prices are similar to what you can find in supermarket but quality of products is better. This direct link between producers and consumers make CSAs part of the solidarity economy. As CSAs use a short-circuit distribution system and base their production on specific agronomic practices (usually inspired by the Charter of peasant agriculture and the specification of organic agriculture), they participate in the fight against pollution and the risk of industrial agriculture.

One of the oldest examples of the concept has emerged in the 1960s in Japan. At that time, mothers were worried about Japanese agriculture massively using chemicals. These mothers founded in 1965 the first Teikei (提携) involving dairy cooperatives. Then this example spread all over the world.

In France, since the end of 2007 around 750 CSAs supply approximately 30000 families (which correspond to approximately 90000 persons). The movement was gradually and partially structured by the creation of regional and national networks. In February 2004 stood at Aubagne the first international symposium of Teikei (Japan), CSA (US&UK), AMAP (France), ASC (Quebec) and some similar systems from different countries. A second international conference was held later in Palmela (Portugal) in December 2005 resulting in the creation of an international network. Other conferences were held in Aubagne (January 2008) and Kobe (2010).

(by Charles)

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