|China Case Studies|
Motivation for the selection of China as a country case:
Governmental institution has pioneered the sector’s development.
China has a focus on certification and standards with development of spun-off marketing and extension activities.
Organic agriculture development has mainly been in the hands of government institutions. In 1989, when seeking ways to reduce environmental pollution and soil erosion, improve agricultural ecosystems and enhance biodiversity, the Rural Ecology Sector of the Nanjing Institute of Environment Sciences of the State Environment Protection Administration joined IFOAM as the first member from China. Market demand from developed countries was another initial driving force for organic production. Certification is considered the main factor for development of organic farming, and the elaboration of Chinese standards, certification and accreditation has been a strong focus. The Chinese National Organic Products Standard was implemented in 2005. Based on the IFOAM standards and complying with Codex Alimentarius, EU Regulation 2092/91, and the NOP, the Chinese organic standard is among the most stringent in the world. Certification and the use of the national logo are mandatory for organic products. The Certification and Accreditation Administration of China (CNCA) approved 29 control bodies by 2006. Organically managed land covered 978,000 ha in 2005. The main organic products are cereals, beans, and tea. Export accounts for more than half of the total value of organic products, 2.2 billion RMB in 2004. The main export markets are the USA, EU, Japan, and some Southeast Asia countries. The domestic market value is only 0.2 billion RMB. Although hampered by high prices, the domestic organic market has increased rapidly in recent years. In 2004, 11 ministries from the central government of China issued a ‘Recommendation to Promote Organic Food Industry Development.’ This is considered the first central government document to bring forward policies supporting the organic sector, including detailed rules for subsidies to organic. Green manure was systematically used in China to fertilize rice paddies over 3,000 years ago.
Organization and structure of the organic sector
In accord with the organic industries’ development in China, all kinds of new organic agricultural models have been developed. A firm leasehold management means that an organic processing or trading company leases the land from farmers and manages the farm and the sale of organic products, while the peasants may obtain the land rent and at the same time become agricultural workers. The peasants’ payment has no direct relation to farm yield. A successful model is the company + base + farmers, where the processing or trading firm sets up the organic production base in cooperation with a local government such as a village or a township. The farmers take up organic production according to the firm’s demand, and the government signs a planting and purchase agreement with the farmers in a sound, long-term collaboration. In an organic production association the farmers are led and organized by the local government to take part in organic production. The association may instruct the farmers in organic production, support in techniques and sell the products with a standardized quality. Where companies fail to organize organic production, the local governments also establish their own ‘government enterprises’ in so-called demonstration bases of local government to promote local organic development.
The image of organic agriculture is that it contributes to health, food safety, and environmental protection. Besides export opportunities, the official sector emphasizes organic agriculture’s contribution to sustainable development of agriculture and sustainable land use.
Supporting structures: Research, education, extension Along with the development of organic agriculture in China, many science research institutes established organic agriculture research and consultation agencies to provide consultation for publicity, training, and organic agriculture techniques.
The Nanjing Global Organic Food Research and Consulting Centre (OFRC) was formally established in 1999. As the first registered organic farming research and consultancy organization in China, OFRC became a member of IFOAM in 1999, and a part of IFOAM’s Organic Agriculture Consultation Experts Committee in 2002. So far, OFRC has conducted consultation, instruction, and training for over 300 producing enterprises and bases of organic products in China. OFRC conducted technological and market studies as well as research on policy and planning for organic food.
In 2000 the Plant Protection Department of the China Agriculture University founded an Organic Agriculture Technology Research Centre that began training in organic plant protection technology, seeking to spread it over the whole country. They have set up programs and have published books on organic agriculture principles and technology that made great contributions to the development of Chinese organic agriculture. In the same year, Nanjing Agriculture University set up the Institute of Organic Agriculture and Organic Food to work on organic agriculture science research and technology extension. China Agriculture University and Nanjing Agriculture University also opened courses on organic agriculture that helped many technicians master organic agriculture technique.
There are also many NGOs in China that promote and develop organic production systems, such as the Pesticide Eco-Alternatives Centre Yunnan, Greenpeace Hong Kong, and Partnerships for Community Development in Hong Kong. They have conducted many experimental programs for organic agriculture and made active and effective investigations of Chinese organic agriculture practices. (Authors: Ms. Weihua Xie, Mr. Wenpeng You, Mr. Dong Lu and Mr. Xingji Xiao)
Further Reading on China's Organic Sector development:
(Adapted From IFOAM, Building Sustainable Organic Sectors)
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