Why do farmers quit from grain production in China? Causes and implications

Jin‐Tao Zhan (College of Economics and Management, Nanjing Agricultural University, Nanjing, China)
Yan‐Rui Wu (Business School, The University of Western Australia, Perth, Australia)
Xiao‐Hui Zhang (Research Centre for Rural Economy, Ministry of Agriculture, Beijing, China)
Zhang‐Yue Zhou (School of Business, James Cook University, Townsville, Australia)

China Agricultural Economic Review

ISSN: 1756-137X

Publication date: 31 August 2012

Abstract

Purpose

The number of farms engaged in grain production in China has been declining in recent years. Limited efforts have been devoted to examine why producers quit from grain production and how such exits affect China's grain output. Such information, however, is invaluable in understanding whether the exit from grain production should be encouraged and if so, how. The purpose of this paper is to identify the factors that influence farmers' decision to quit from grain production, with a view to drawing implications for devising policies to deal with such exits.

Design/methodology/approach

Both descriptive statistics and econometric techniques are used to analyse a set of unique and comprehensive farm‐level survey data to identify key factors that affect farmers' decision to quit from grain production.

Findings

Key factors that influence a farm to quit from, or stay in, grain production include: family size, the share of farming labour out of total family labour, per capita arable land, the proportion of land used for grain production, the share of family income from grains. It was also found that the level of grain prices and the sunk cost in farming, chiefly in grain production, also affect the likelihood that a household will stay or exit from grain production. Further, farmers in more economically developed regions are more likely to quit from grain production.

Originality/value

The paper's findings clearly indicate that farms with a larger scale of grain production and earning higher income from grain are the major contributors to China's grain production. Potential exists for China to raise its total grain output if the land from those exiting farmers is readily made available to larger producers, enabling them to further benefit from the economies of scale.

Keywords

Citation

Zhan, J., Wu, Y., Zhang, X. and Zhou, Z. (2012), "Why do farmers quit from grain production in China? Causes and implications", China Agricultural Economic Review, Vol. 4 No. 3, pp. 342-362. https://doi.org/10.1108/17561371211263365

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Publisher

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Emerald Group Publishing Limited

Copyright © 2012, Emerald Group Publishing Limited

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