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Social connectedness in marginal rural China: The case of farmer innovation circles in Zhidan, north Shaanxi


  • Bin Wu


  • Jules Pretty


The intrinsic dynamics andinnovative potential of the rural poor in Chinacan be illustrated by the phenomena of farmerinnovation circles (FIC) in north Shaanxi.These are informal networks used by farmers tocollaborate on technology learning andagricultural production. Though not limited tospecific geographic locations, these circlesare particularly important in the marginalareas of rural China where the complexity ofthe geographic environment, the diversity offarmer demands, and the inefficiency of formalagricultural extension networks impede thespread of new agricultural technologies. Socialconnectedness in the form of householdcommunication networks, technology learninggroups, and inter-village links aids people's collective capacity to work together. In thestudy of 50 villages in this remote region, itwas found that households with more connectionswere more likely to adopt a range of newtechnologies (ploughs, varieties, inputs,orchards, afforestation, grazing landrehabilitation), and so had higher income. Adetailed case study shows how collective actioncan lead to environmental improvements thatfurther increase incomes. It is concluded thatif there is to be sustainable development inthe marginal areas of China, then there willclearly need to be closer communication andinteraction between agricultural professionalsand rural communities. Copyright Kluwer Academic Publishers 2004

Suggested Citation

  • Bin Wu & Jules Pretty, 2004. "Social connectedness in marginal rural China: The case of farmer innovation circles in Zhidan, north Shaanxi," Agriculture and Human Values, Springer;The Agriculture, Food, & Human Values Society (AFHVS), vol. 21(1), pages 81-92, March.
  • Handle: RePEc:spr:agrhuv:v:21:y:2004:i:1:p:81-92
    DOI: 10.1023/B:AHUM.0000014025.47576.72

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    References listed on IDEAS

    1. Yao, Shujie, 2000. "Economic Development and Poverty Reduction in China over 20 Years of Reforms," Economic Development and Cultural Change, University of Chicago Press, vol. 48(3), pages 447-474, April.
    2. Rozelle, Scott & Park, Albert & Benziger, Vincent & Changqing Ren, 1998. "Targeted poverty investments and economic growth in China," World Development, Elsevier, vol. 26(12), pages 2137-2151, December.
    3. World Bank, 2001. "China : Overcoming Rural Poverty," World Bank Publications, The World Bank, number 13902.
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    Cited by:

    1. Ayu Pratiwi & Aya Suzuki, 2017. "Effects of farmers’ social networks on knowledge acquisition: lessons from agricultural training in rural Indonesia," Journal of Economic Structures, Springer;Pan-Pacific Association of Input-Output Studies (PAPAIOS), vol. 6(1), pages 1-23, December.
    2. Christina Handschuch & Meike Wollni, 2016. "Improved production systems for traditional food crops: the case of finger millet in western Kenya," Food Security: The Science, Sociology and Economics of Food Production and Access to Food, Springer;The International Society for Plant Pathology, vol. 8(4), pages 783-797, August.
    3. Konstantin Fursov & Thomas Thurner, 2016. "God Helps Those Who Help Themselves! A Study of User-Innovation in Russia," HSE Working papers WP BRP 59/STI/2016, National Research University Higher School of Economics.
    4. Eric von Hippel & Jeroen P. J. de Jong & Stephen Flowers, 2012. "Comparing Business and Household Sector Innovation in Consumer Products: Findings from a Representative Study in the United Kingdom," Management Science, INFORMS, vol. 58(9), pages 1669-1681, September.
    5. repec:spr:nathaz:v:89:y:2017:i:2:d:10.1007_s11069-017-2994-0 is not listed on IDEAS
    6. Susanne, Kummer & Rebecka, Milestad & Friedrich, Leitgeb & Christian, R. Vogl, 2012. "Building Resilience through Farmers’ Experiments in Organic Agriculture: Examples from Eastern Austria," Sustainable Agriculture Research, Canadian Center of Science and Education, vol. 0(Number 2).
    7. repec:oup:scippl:v:44:y:2017:i:3:p:392-402. is not listed on IDEAS


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