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Understanding farmers’ compliance and non-compliance of food safety rules in China

Research domain:
Policies and institutions

Project duration:
01.10.2016 - 01.10.2020

Alongside with the great development of agricultural productivity, recently, consumers in China get increasingly aware of food safety. Additionally, growing export activities of Chinese agribusiness especially in the area of vegetables requires compliance with food safety regulation on destinations’ markets. However, there are several food safety problems in China’s currently including vegetable sector. The way of pesticide use seems to be a serious one. For instance, many recent food scandals have been reported by mass media and attracted public interest. Underlying causes are, first, often an overuse or even the choice of illegal pesticides. A second cause is farmers’ ignorance of pesticide species and instructions about quantity and frequency, at least by some of them. Furthermore, reports highlight an arbitrary choice of quantities, the use of blended pesticides or the application of chemicals inputs sometimes would be right before the harvest.

China is still characterized by a large amount of small farmers which might result in higher costs of the public food safety system. To guarantee food safety, China has implemented some mandatory policies which provide standards of vegetable production for all producers, as well as some non-mandatory policies like food certification schemes. Despite these policies, some farmers, at least, still deviate from rules either unintentionally due to limited cognition or intentionally due to the interest of monetary gain.

In order to study and prevent farmer’ way of pesticide use from deviation of rules, factors that have an influence on decision will be explored first. Then it comes to the measure that can promote farmers towards compliance of pesticide use rules. Moreover, as vertical integration is seen as one strategy to increase farmers’ compliance, a more interactive perspective, where vertical integration in Chinese vegetable sector will be introduced for a better understanding in terms of whether, why and how the vertical integration in China could make a contribution.