Organic farming increases rural development and farmer livelihoods in China

Photo credit: Aaron Greenwood

A recent study published in the journal Ecological Economics found that organic agriculture can improve rural development and increase the livelihoods of farmers in China. Key findings from household surveys showed that organic farmers, and particularly mid-sized farmers, were able to earn more money as a result of higher premiums and fewer input costs. Additionally, organic operations created more jobs for local community members. For instance, during the survey, roughly 13% of the organic farmers hired more labor when needed, while conventional farmers hired none. The authors suggest that increased household income and more locally based jobs could help slow the mass migration from rural to urban areas. Government support through initiative programs was essential for successful transition, and the technical information that farmers needed was delivered primarily through village or township leaders and governmental extension. While organic management can benefit all farmers in the study, the authors suggest that those participating in cooperatives would be the most successful.