Reviving Community Agrarianism in Post-socialist China

Daren Shi-Chi LEUNG*

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Book Chapters | Papers in Conference ProceedingsBook ChapterResearchpeer-review


Tasked with feeding 1.4 billion people, China often promotes its success in food security in relation to its self-sufficient grain production. In the post-socialist context, the reformist state has been pursuing a capital-based vertical model to integrate millions of smallholding producers into the market. Yet, the introduction of high-yield hybrid rice to increase production has resulted in a set of related crises, including widespread environmental pollution, food-safety issues and adverse impacts on rural life. However, agrarian communities are challenging these state-imposed practices of food production. This chapter explores an endogenous form of regenerative agriculture that has emerged in South China since the early 2000s, a Chinese form of food and farming activism for reviving community agrarianism. I argue that the revitalization of “traditional” farming practices as a form of xaingtu (rural) knowledge has evolved with and through local peasants’ experience and struggle over the decades. One example that combines diverse aspects of such knowledge is the “fish-duck-rice paddy”, a well-known symbiotic method of pest control that also works with native varieties, organic manure and cooperative labour. This method revives peasants’ experience of the Mao era as a cultural reference for community agrarianism. The revival of community agrarianism allows farming to be narrated as an evolving social and historical practice, not “wasting” peasants’ knowledge, in contrast to the capitalist agrarian transformation.
Original languageEnglish
Title of host publicationBeyond global food supply chains : crisis, disruption, regeneration
EditorsVictoria STEAD, Melinda HINKSON
Place of PublicationSingapore
PublisherPalgrave Macmillan
Number of pages16
ISBN (Electronic)9789811931550
ISBN (Print)9789811931574, 9789811931543
Publication statusPublished - 21 Jul 2022


  • Post-socialist China
  • Community-supported agriculture (CSA)
  • Rural knowledge
  • Farming methods
  • Peasantry
  • commons


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