Certified Organic Agriculture as an Alternative Livelihood Strategy for Small-scale Farmers in China: A Case Study in Wanzai County, Jiangxi Province

Ecological Economics

Xueqing He, Niels Halberg, Seth Cook, Steffanie Scott, Friederike Martin, Xihe Pan

Organic agriculture can sustain rural development and ease poverty. However, whether it could be a viable pathway to improve the livelihoods of small-scale farmers in the context of urbanisation and demographic change has been less studied. To understand this, household surveys were conducted in 2007 and 2014 in Wanzai, Jiangxi Province China, where organic farming started in 2000. The results show that organic farming did contribute to higher farm incomes for small-scale farmers (< 1 ha land) compared to those practicing conventional agriculture, regardless of whether the profitability is measured on a per land unit or per household basis. The annual farmers household net income increased from 2007 to 2014, however, the farm income of small-scale farmers only makes up a minor part of total household income and its percentage becomes less and less over time. For medium-scale organic farmers (> 1 ha land), the proportion of income from farming was higher (56% in 2007 and 77% in 2014), leading to average farm incomes of USD16,108 in 2014. Among organic farmers, cooperatives members performed better economically than those not in cooperatives. Organic agriculture can ensure stable and sustainable alternative livelihoods, especially in a situation where available land offers opportunities for scaling up.


Featured Country: China

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