Understanding rural poverty in China

GFAR researcher Dr Di Zeng recently visited Guangxi University from 11 to 14 April, 2019, a national key university and regional research centre in southwest China.

This trip was arranged at the invitation of Associate Professor Xinjian Chen, our visiting scholar at GFAR last year, who is also the head of the Department of Agricultural Economics at Guangxi University.

On 12 April, Dr. Zeng presented the 39th Li Da Lecture, the most prestigious research forum, to more than 100 academics and students at Guangxi University Business School. The presentation is titled “Poverty-stricken counties in China’s agricultural development: A county-level panel data analysis”, which is a collaborated research outcome with A/Prof. Chen. The researchers specifically wanted to identify whether the centrally designated poverty-stricken county status, along with the significant financial aid annually received from Beijing, had increased county-level agricultural income over time. In most parts of China, agricultural households are always the majority of population in poverty-stricken counties and the poorest. Thus, this research is important in assisting China’s policy decisions in poverty alleviation.

On 13-14 April, Dr. Zeng with A/Prof. Chen travelled to Chongzuo, a prefecture-level city, located in the southwest of Guangxi Autonomous Region and bordering Vietnam. The researchers visited several townships and villages to see how local agribusinesses operate income generating strategies through commercial farming (e.g. banana and mango), as well as agritourism development. They also travelled to China-Vietnam border to see how smallholders engage in border trade to increase household income and diversify income sources. Poverty in China and many other developing countries are a chronic issue that demands location-, industry- and market-specific measures. These firsthand experiences with real-world agribusinesses and households are therefore invaluable in understanding rural poverty in China.

A/Prof. Chen also has ongoing research collaborations with GFAR researcher Prof Sarah Wheeler  and A/Prof Alec Zuo on Mango agribusiness in Asian countries. We wish to enhance research collaboration with researchers from major Chinese universities in the future agricultural and food issues in this region.

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