Farmers’ practices and the political ecology of agrochemicals in rural China

Rogers, Sarah, Wang, Zoe Ju-Han, and He, Jun (2023) Farmers’ practices and the political ecology of agrochemicals in rural China. Geoforum, 141. 103751.

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Chinese agriculture is in the midst of profound change, driven in part by the state’s goals to scale up and modernise the sector and to promote more sustainable practices by reducing chemical fertiliser and pesticide use. Much of the existing literature on agrochemical use reduces these complex and highly politicised processes to a set of variables and models in which farmers are defined by characteristics such as age, education, and land size. This results in a poor understanding of why farmers do what they do. By examining case studies in Hubei and Yunnan, in this article we aim to better understand Chinese farmers’ agrochemical practices, and to begin to situate these in a broader political ecology of agrochemicals in China. Drawing on research conducted in 2017–2019, we examine the socio-ecological relations of production and exchange in these two places and how farmers make decisions about, and access, fertilisers and pesticides. We find no single trajectory, but a complexity of practice shaped by local conditions and policies. External drivers are constraining chemical pesticide use and promoting commercial organic fertiliser products, but actual on-farm practices complicate some of these goals. To drive forward our understanding of agrochemicals in China, we argue that a political–ecological approach is needed that is attuned to farmers’ decision-making about their particular crops, the local political economy that shapes access to resources such as alternative pest management tools and sets particular agendas, and the networks of agrochemical production and sales that bring different products to farms.

Item ID: 78590
Item Type: Article (Research - C1)
ISSN: 1872-9398
Keywords: Fertiliser, Pesticide, Agrarian change, Rural development, Organic agriculture
Copyright Information: Copyright © 2023 Elsevier Ltd.
Funders: Australian Research Council (ARC)
Projects and Grants: ARC DP180100519
Date Deposited: 26 May 2023 01:53
FoR Codes: 44 HUMAN SOCIETY > 4406 Human geography > 440604 Environmental geography @ 100%
SEO Codes: 28 EXPANDING KNOWLEDGE > 2801 Expanding knowledge > 280123 Expanding knowledge in human society @ 100%
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