A Review of Organic Growth in China's Agricultural and Food Systems

  • Harry Donkers The Netherlands
Keywords: Organic and Conventional Agriculture, Food safety, Certification, Ecological Agriculture


China is a very large country with a long farming history. In this paper I focus on the growth of organic agriculture in the context of the Chinese agriculture and food systems. In the early 1990s strong market-oriented, large-scale conventional supply chain agriculture was established to meet food security. Due to several food safety and environmental concerns, during the 1990s various approaches to develop organic agriculture were undertaken by both the government and civil society, NGO's and activists included. Chinese consumers are mostly buying organic in response to food safety concerns, rather than from environmental concerns. In this review a clear picture is presented of the complicated developments that took and take place in China. Constraints for the farmers to develop the organic farming are less policy support from government, lack of substantial and practical techniques to support farmers with substantial technologies for pest, disease and weed control, and soil fertile maintenance, and high costs of certication. It is observed that the 'top-down' government initiatives and the 'bottom-up' civil society movements to a large extent diverge. However, there are clues for the view that these developments intersect. To make sure that organic agriculture is effective in view of the basic ancient Chinese values of food security, I conclude that it is essential that the bottle-necks are solved and that the organic sector show increased production and productivity. In order for the organic sector to be a serious party to contribute to the basic Chinese food security, I nd it necessary to switch to ecological intensication. I even want to claim that transformation of ecological intensication towards conventional agriculture could be another clue for the view that the seemingly contrasting developments of organic and conventional agriculture grow towards each other.

Author Biography

Harry Donkers, The Netherlands

Irenestraat 3-H, 5141GJ Waalwijk