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The Political Economy of Contract Farming in China’s Agrarian Transition
Journal of Agrarian Change
  • Qian Forrest ZHANG, Singapore Management University
Publication Type
Journal Article
Publication Date
How does rural China’s political economy determine the motivations and constraints that drive small farmers and agribusiness companies into contract farming and shape its practice and impact? This paper identifies three distinctive features of contract farming in China—varied impact on rural inequality, unstable contractual relations, and lack of competitiveness with other alternatives—and proposes tentative explanations with three features in rural China’s political economy: strong collective institutions, active state support for agriculture, and strong domestic markets. The recent turn in China’s agrarian transition toward vertical integration of agriculture with industries is, however, undermining these conditions and may move China toward more convergence with other countries. Studying contract farming in China’s unique political economy context shows not only how variations in the political economy can alter its practice and impact, but also how it needs to be evaluated in comparison with competing alternatives.
  • contract farming,
  • agrarian transition,
  • rural China,
  • agribusiness,
  • family farming
Creative Commons License
Creative Commons Attribution-Noncommercial-No Derivative Works 4.0
Additional URL
(Accepted version. Final version in Journal of Agrarian change, 2012). Acknowledgements: This research is supported by a research grant (C242/MSS9S016) from the Office of Research, Singapore Management University. The fieldwork was conducted jointly with my collaborator, Professor John A. DONALDSON, who also gave helpful comments on the paper. Mao Zheying provided able research assistance.

Citation Information
Qian Forrest ZHANG. "The Political Economy of Contract Farming in China’s Agrarian Transition" Journal of Agrarian Change Vol. 12 Iss. 4 (2012) p. 460 - 483 ISSN: 1471-0358
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