Red meat from pasture : sustainable livelihoods for small mixed farmers in China's Yunnan Province : a thesis submitted in partial fulfilment of the requirements for the degree of Master in Applied Science in Agribusiness Management at Massey University, Palmerston North, New Zealand
China's pattern of food consumption is changing. The demand for high quality red meat is rapidly increasing, especially in the more affluent coastal regions. The pastoral livestock farmers in Southwest China have low and declining incomes, and operate in a highly uncertain environment. This environmental uncertainty is derived from the seasonal climate, land tenure policies, and a dealer-dominated supply chain in which information is scarce, ambiguous, and untimely. The researcher spent two years in China's Yunnan Province working on a pastoral development project. During this assignment, the researcher undertook a case study of the small, mixed livestock and cropping farmers involved in the project, together with an evaluation of alternative strategies for pastoral development and enhancing livestock production. The case study also involved an overview of agricultural extension and the red meat supply chain in the study area. The current farm production systems are environmentally, financially and socially unsustainable. Farm output is low and achieved inefficiently at considerable cost to future productive potential. Farmers are not investing in farm improvements because they lack confidence in their ability to generate a return from such investments. Confidence is low because farmers do not trust other supply chain participants, and they perceive a low level of control over the operating environment. This is resulting in a vicious cycle of unsustainability. There are numerous market opportunities emerging due to changes food consumption. Farmers have three broad strategic options for taking advantage of these opportunities: invest in technologies to raise output and quality, further process to add value and increase consumer acceptance of red meat and co-operate within the supply chain. The technologies extended as part of the development project were demonstrated to yield significant benefits in terms of production and profit. However, adoption has been low because many of the technologies did not consider local constraints, extension has not widely occurred and uncertainty in the operating environment did not encourage investment. For farmers to be able to successfully implement these strategies farmers need to be empowered and a more enabling environment created. This empowerment involves changing farmers' perception of locus of control, sharing control and supply chain participants learning about each other. Co-operation between farmers and the rest of the supply chain should provide benefits along the whole chain. A model for co-operative and sustainable development is proposed and limitations of this model are discussed. Title: Red Meat from Pasture: Sustainable Livelihoods for Small Mixed Farmers in China's Yunnan Province. Degree: Master of Applied Science in Agribusiness Management Author: Alan Kent McDermott Year: 2001 Keywords: Southwest China; pastoral livestock systems; supply chain management; sustainable livelihoods; trust; perceptions of control; extension of technology.