Innovating small-scale farming

National initiative, Romania

SDG 8: Decent work and economic growthSDG 10: Reduced inequalitiesSDG 15: Life on land
Asociația pentru Susținerea Agriculturii Țărănești, ASAT (Association for the Support of Rural Agriculture) is a Romanian non-governmental organisation established in 2014 as a country-wide network of partnerships between traditional organic small-scale farmers and nearby consumers and cities. Following a cooperation model of creating partnerships between organic and local agricultural producers and local consumers and businesses, the project supports sustainable rural development and traditional agriculture while at the same time offering small-scale producers a step into the larger market. The organisation has been very successful in establishing an alternative model for the development of traditional small-scale farms, a model through which farmers receive a fair price for their work and which protects them from the instabilities of the food market dominated by large agri-businesses.

Even though large-scale and modern techniques of farming are efficient in producing a vast quantity of agricultural product, such techniques are dependent on using pesticides, relying on monocultures and other practices that are harmful and hazardous for the biodiversity of the area. On top of this, local and small-scale producers who are farming organic and sustainable agricultural products have been forced out of business in favour of the expansion of large agribusiness.

Good practices and solutions

ASAT helps small-scale farmers to capitalize on the benefits provided by traditional agriculture in Romania. With a cooperation model based on solidarity and with a vertical governance, the organization has established a nation-wide network connecting local food producers with consumers and businesses. This model ensures the sustainability of small-scale farming, their possibility of collective bargaining ensures that producers receive a fair price for their products. Not only does this model support the financial sustainability of locally produced agri-products, it also helps to preserve local biodiversity.

Outcomes & Opportunities

The ASAT project is guided by three pillars: 1) Ecology and sustainability: small scale farmers supported by ASAT deliver healthy organic products to their consumers. ASAT farmers also work hard at preserving Romania’s traditional seed diversity; 2) Social inclusion and solidarity: most farmers supported ASAT were marginalized people at risk of poverty before entering the partnership. Now they manage to make a decent living and slowly grow their farm through new investments supported by the partnerships (e.g. investments in greenhouses, irrigation systems, technologies, etc.); 3) Direct sales of farm-made products: ASAT farmers sell their product directly to their consumer circumventing all intermediaries. Furthermore, the co-operative solidarity foundation and governing model of ASAT has been identified as a key factor for success, confirming the importance of accounting for the needs and demands of the local community in the decision-making process.

Related SDG targets


Photo: © Fineas Anton/Unsplash

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