Since the mid-2000s China’s central government has been financing an aggressive overhaul of its farming sector. Predicating this drive on a need to increase food security, the state has invested billions to rapidly replace small-scale farming households with large-scale, mechanized and commercialized agricultural operators. In so doing, it is fundamentally altering not just rural societies and economies, but the landscape itself. This presentation examines the impact of this policy through an ethnographic study of one of China’s first agricultural modernization demonstration zones. This agricultural modernization reform has resulted in small income gains and improved production conditions for many. However, it has also decreased agricultural productivity, legitimized and incentivized the expulsion or marginalization of small-scale farm households and weakened agroecological resilience.
Ross Doll is a PhD student in the UW Department of Geography. He received his MA in China Studies from UW, and BA from UC-Berkeley. Prior to beginning his PhD program, he worked for three years as a researcher at the Seattle-based non-profit Landesa/RDI. His research is based on two months of fieldwork conducted in 2014 with the support of a Fulbright grant.