Rubber specialization vs crop diversification: the roles of perceived risks

Shi Min (China Center for Agricultural Policy, School of Advanced Agricultural Sciences, Peking University, Beijing, China)
Jikun Huang (China Center for Agricultural Policy, School of Advanced Agricultural Sciences, Peking University, Beijing, China)
Hermann Waibel (Institute of Development and Agricultural Economics, Leibniz University Hannover, Hannover, Germany)

China Agricultural Economic Review

ISSN: 1756-137X

Publication date: 2 May 2017

Abstract

Purpose

The purpose of this paper is to examine the impact of farmers’ risk perceptions regarding rubber farming on their land use choices, including rubber specialization and crop diversification.

Design/methodology/approach

A cross-sectional survey data of some 600 smallholder rubber farmers in Xishuangbanna in Southwest China is employed. This paper develops a general conceptual framework that incorporates a subjective risk item into a model of farmers’ land use choices, thereby developing four econometric models to estimate the role of risk perceptions, and applies instrumental variables to control for the endogeneity of risk perceptions.

Findings

The results demonstrate that risk perceptions play an important role in smallholders’ decision-making regarding land use strategies to address potential risks in rubber farming. Smallholders with higher risk perceptions specialize in rubber farming less often and are more likely to diversify their land use, thereby contributing to local environmental conservation in terms of agrobiodiversity. The land use choices of smallholder rubber farmers are also associated with ethnicity, household wealth, off-farm employment, land tenure status, altitude and rubber farming experience.

Originality/value

This study contributes to a better understanding of the implications of farmers’ risk perceptions and shows entry points for improving the sustainability of rubber-based land use systems.

Keywords

Acknowledgements

This study has been conducted in the framework of the Sino-German “SURUMER Project,” funded by the Bundesministerium für Wissenschaft, Technologie und Forschung (BMBF), FKZ: 01LL0919. The authors also acknowledge the funding support from the National Natural Science Foundation of China (Project No. 71333013). The authors are especially grateful to XSBN biological industry office and local officials for facilitating the field survey of smallholder rubber farmers in XSBN.

Citation

Min, S., Huang, J. and Waibel, H. (2017), "Rubber specialization vs crop diversification: the roles of perceived risks", China Agricultural Economic Review, Vol. 9 No. 2, pp. 188-210. https://doi.org/10.1108/CAER-07-2016-0097

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Publisher

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Emerald Publishing Limited

Copyright © 2017, Emerald Publishing Limited

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