Certified organic agriculture as an alternative livelihood for farmers

Photo credit: Jim Bowen

A new study published in the journal Ecological Economics has found that certified organic agriculture presents a sustainable livelihood strategy for smallholder farmers in China.  Using surveys, researchers collected data from smallholder farmers (less than 1 hectare of land) and medium-scale farmers (greater than 1 hectare of land) in Wanzai, Jiangxi Province, China. They found that organic farming contributed to higher incomes for farmers when calculated on both per land unit basis or per household basis. For medium-scale farmers, the income differential was even greater with organic farmers earning 56 percent more income in 2007 and 77 percent more income in 2014 than conventional farmers.  Among organic farmers, those who were part of cooperatives earned more than those operating independently did. “Organic agriculture can ensure stable and sustainable alternative livelihoods, especially in a situation where available land offers opportunities for scaling up,” the authors concluded.