Monday, 06 February 2017 15:41

Understanding How Responsible Agriculture Works

Written by Melina Jeannottat
Responsible Agriculture Responsible Agriculture Voluntario Global

In this Saturday's workshop, the students reflected on how prices are fixed in commercial agriculture.

One of our tasks as volunteers at Pacheco Community Centre is to research projects in different parts of the world which present similarities with the work carried out here by the coordinator, the teacher and the students. We then present one project weekly to the young people during the Saturday morning workshop with the idea of generating a debate within the group; inspiring them and bringing them to ask themselves: What do we have here? What have we achieved? Could we go further and how? 

In our first lesson, we chose to talk about responsible agriculture and local production. The class started with an exercise aimed at making everyone take an active part in the reflection. We used the example of a banana produced in Costa Rica and sold in a supermarket in the United Kingdom. The banana was cut into six parts of variable percentages, each one representing the six components of its final price: worker, grower, transport, distributor, tax and retailer. The students then had a lively debate to find out which percentage of the banana’s final price would go to which link in the commercial chain.

Once completed, the exercise paved the way to a more general discussion about the problematic of equity, financial viability and sustainability in today’s globalised agriculture. 

With the example of the Buenos Aires based association “Más cerca es más justo”, which delivers weekly fruit and vegetable boxes from local producers directly to the consumers in different distribution points around the city, we intended to demonstrate that alternative routes exist for producers. Not only does it allow them to sell their goods at a fairer price and make a decent living out of it, but it also represents a much more interesting – and tasty – option for the consumers. The students came up with plenty of advantages this form of more responsible agricultre offers. Besides a cheaper price, local products are healthier, as less chemicals and pesticides are used. 

The class ended on a reflective note, with the young people talking about possible ways to use their space at Pacheco as a weekly fruit and vegetable distribution point for neighbours, and even thinking if they could maybe start a commercial activity in the future. 


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