Certified organic agriculture in China and Brazil: Market accessibility and outcomes following adoption

Myles Oelofse, Henning Høgh Jensen, Lucimar S. Abreu, Gustavo F. Almeida, Qiao Yu Hui, Tursinbek Sultan, Andreas de Neergaard

Research output: Contribution to journalJournal articleResearchpeer-review


Based on three case studies in China and Brazil, this paper explores the terms of access for farmers' participation in certified organic agriculture (OA) and investigates the influence of adoption on productivity, nutrient budgets, income and labour use. Small-scale farmers converting to OA require substantial external production-related, marketing and certification support. Access to OA was strongly dependent upon the type of support available to farmers. Organization based on a contract-farming model resulted in OA only being an option available to a narrow group of farmers, whilst OA initiated by a farmer cooperative provided better access. Gross output was significantly higher for oranges, whilst for the other crops gross output was similar. However, organic farmers in China felt that adoption had improved prices, incomes and market access. Farmers' perception of improved incomes is probably due to improved market access coupled with either a large production base, production intensification and production diversification. This study demonstrates that organization of farmers, and the manner in which this is structured, is crucial for external support to have an effect. Thus, OA may be a development path for small farmers if the supporting structures are provided at a small financial interest rate.
Original languageEnglish
JournalEcological Economics
Issue number9
Pages (from-to)1785-1793
Publication statusPublished - 2010
Externally publishedYes


  • Organic agriculture
  • Sustainable livelihoods
  • Market access
  • China
  • Brazil

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