Impact of migrant and returning farmer professionalization on food production diversity

Min Liu, Wei Zheng, Taiyang Zhong

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


Since the 2000s, there has been an increasing number of returning and migrant farmers across China. In 2012, China initiated a program for fostering professional farmers, which has caused greater changes for farmers and led to an agricultural shift towards commercial production. Migration has been recognized as a crucial factor affecting the diversity of agricultural production. However, scant attention has been paid to how different types of farmers influence agricultural diversification. Therefore, this study examines the influence of migrant farmers, returning farmers, and local non-migrant farmers on food production diversity. This study collected farm-level data on food production and farmers’ characteristics and applied a negative binomial regression model to estimate the impacts of different types of farmers on agricultural development. The results show that farms operated by migrant farmers had a significantly lower level of food production diversity while farms operated by returning farmers had no significant difference in food production diversity, using farms operated by local non-migrant farmers as the reference category. The variation in agricultural production diversity lies in differences in food production purposes, agricultural and market skills, and various risk-related capacities among the different types of farmers. Farm-level production specialization does not necessarily reduce food diversity and agrobiodiversity at the rural community and regional level.
Original languageEnglish
JournalJournal of Rural Studies
Publication statusAccepted/In press - 27 May 2022


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