Recently I was introduced to the concept of Community Support Agriculture or CSA.
Essentially CSA is an alternative to traditional agricultural business model. Instead of selling crops to large firms, the farmers (in many cases organic ones) enters into contracts with end-consumers to deliver crops over a long period of time.
I personally like the concept because it solves many problems of being a farmer.
First of all, farming is capital-intensive. Farmers have to buy a lot of equipment and fertilizers at the start of the season, put a lot of labor to grow the crops without any income until harvesting. By entering into contracts with end-consumers, consumers pay them in advance at the beginning of the season. As such, the farmers do not have to borrow money from financial institutions incuring interest burdens.
Secondly, CSA bypasses the middle man. The farmers do not have to sell to large corporations usually with very high negotiating powers. Thirdly, the end-consumers get to eat the crops fresh from the farm.
This concept works exceptionally well with organic farmers, because the customers are those of health-conscious. They want to buy directly from the farmers in the first place. In addition, organic farming is usually small in size; selling to a small number of end-consumers usually suffices. The long term contracts remove them the burdens of having to keep finding new customers all the times.
I think CSA is the concept that makes organic farming a more feasible career path for the young generation. It’s not impossible in the future that all traditional farmers would go organic. That will also solve the financial problems of all farmers. Consumers get to eat healthier food, too.
P.S. Come to think of it, I remember that you can enter into this kind of ongoing contract to buy organic rice as small as one kilogram per month directly from the farmers at one of the chain bookstores in Thailand. The rice will be delivered by mail. This kind of CSA have been around in Thailand for quite some time.