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From Land Consolidation and Food Safety to Taobao Villages and Alternative Food Networks: Four Components of China's Dynamic Agri-Rural Innovation System

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<mark>Journal publication date</mark>28/02/2021
<mark>Journal</mark>Journal of Rural Studies
Number of pages13
Pages (from-to)404-416
Publication StatusPublished
Early online date5/02/21
<mark>Original language</mark>English


The global food system currently requires a transformation in terms of both social and technological norms in order to be environmentally sustainable and productive enough to feed a growing global population. This paper suggests that China has the innovation regime that is the most capable of offering this transformation due the unique dynamic occurring between its top-down policy and bottom-up initiatives. Indeed, it is often the resulting spin-off developments, as a result of these two forces colliding, which creates interesting innovative trajectories that have a transformative potential. This paper identifies land consolidation as the policy most emblematic top-down agricultural process, food safety initiatives as the significant bottom-up equivilent and suggests that the rise of Taobao villages and rural e-commerce are the unintended innovative responses resulting from these forces. The dynamic of this innovation, I argue, can be tentatively mapped out to offer a grounded speculation of where, and how, the most intriguing, and perhaps most likely, developmental trajectories will occur regarding China's agricultural development. As such, this paper argues that Alternative Food Networks are one such evolving example and that the rise of ‘enterprise-based recreational agriculture parks’ - like Beijing's Xiedao Green Resort - points towards how particular innovative trajectories, through unique forms of scalar practices, could develop and shape, agricultural spaces in China.