About Ecological Agriculture in China

Our research on ecological agriculture in China is based on two research projects funded by Social Sciences and Humanities Research Council (SSHRC) of Canada:

Organic and ecological agriculture, ecological modernization, and the developmental state in China

A vendor at Beijing organic farmers' marketThe first project was conducted by Dr. Steffanie Scott, Dr. Aijuan Chen, Dr. Zhenzhong Si and Dr. Theresa Schumilas from 2010 to 2014.

This study sought to:

  • Explain the organization and ownership structures of ecological and organic farms in China; 
  • Identify how small-scale farmers have been integrated into these organizational structures; 
  • Explain the interests and activities of Chinese government bodies at different levels for promoting ecological and organic agriculture; and
  • Explore the relationships between producers and consumers in organic food networks such as community supported agriculture (CSAs), buying clubs, and farmers markets.

The research team investigated the emerging ecological sector in 13 provinces and municipalities across China. Check here for a discussion on the ecological agriculture developmental paths in China.

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Cultivating pathways to ecological agriculture: Rural-urban interfaces and regional dynamics in the agri-food sector in Nanjing, China

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A rice field in peri-urban NanjingThe second project builds on the first project by taking it to a regional scale for a more in-depth localized analysis to understand in situ dynamics and strategies to overcome challenges. The goal of this research is to provide an analysis and assessment of new directions in the agri-food sector around the city of Nanjing, with the aim to support state- and civil society-led initiatives for stronger sustainability outcomes. The research team includes Dr. Steffanie Scott, Dr. Zhenzhong Si, Danshu Qi and Ning Dai. Our team of collaborators includes Drs Taiyang Zhong, Yuhui Qiao, Biao Xie, Kevin Bo Miao, and Hannah Wittman.

The specific research objectives are: 

  • To characterize ecological agriculture-related initiatives (farming, new marketing channels for value-added products, institutional purchasing schemes) in the agri-food sector in peri-urban Nanjing;
  • To evaluate these initiatives against the framings of agrarian transition, including the bio- and eco-economy paradigms, and adapt or reformulate our theoretical understanding of eco-agriculture transition as needed for a Chinese context;
  • To explain the interactions between bio- and eco-economy pathways on a regional level—dominance of one pathway, spatial dichotomy, and/or hybrid pathways;
  • To explain how China’s institutional context influences challenges and opportunities for development of the eco-economy paradigm.