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Specialisation and intensification of farming systems in Western China: The case of dairy farmers in Tibet

Colin G. Brown (School of Agriculture and Food Sciences, The University of Queensland, Brisbane, Australia)
Scott A. Waldron (School of Agriculture and Food Sciences, The University of Queensland, Brisbane, Australia)
John Francis Wilkins (Department of Primary Industries, Agriculture NSW – Agricultural Institute, Wagga Wagga, Australia)

Journal of Agribusiness in Developing and Emerging Economies

ISSN: 2044-0839

Article publication date: 15 May 2017

Abstract

Purpose

The purpose of this paper is to investigate the impact on household and farming systems of government efforts to modernise production, build scale and develop specialisation in the Tibet dairy industry.

Design/methodology/approach

An overview of policy strategies and industry developments is used to frame detailed micro-level analysis of household and farming systems where impacts on households are explored from both a comparative static and dynamic perspective.

Findings

Specialisation and intensification improve household returns but elicit major changes in the farming and household systems and engagement with external markets. For instance, scaling up from three to ten improved cows increases returns from farm activities by one-half but shifts households from a state of food self-sufficiency to one where they need to sell two-thirds of their dairy products and buy three-fifths of their livestock feed.

Research limitations/implications

The diversity among Tibetan farm households and the dynamic changes occurring in farm productivity, product markets and agrarian systems means that the empirical results are used as illustrative rather than definitive.

Originality/value

Relative to the large attention on the Chinese dairy industry with regard to food safety and industry development, the impacts of dairy specialisation on smallholders especially in western China have been overlooked. The case highlights several issues relevant to agrarian transition and development including changing labour use, risk exposure and engagement with external markets.

Keywords

Citation

Brown, C.G., Waldron, S.A. and Wilkins, J.F. (2017), "Specialisation and intensification of farming systems in Western China: The case of dairy farmers in Tibet", Journal of Agribusiness in Developing and Emerging Economies, Vol. 7 No. 1, pp. 69-80. https://doi.org/10.1108/JADEE-04-2015-0022

Publisher

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Emerald Publishing Limited

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