T35d Beyond the Family Farming: the Prospect of Rural Cooperative Economy - 中欧社会论坛 - China Europa Forum

T35d Beyond the Family Farming: the Prospect of Rural Cooperative Economy

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Workshop presentation

Three decades ago, the rural reform in China instituted a separation between ownership and management of farm land. While the reform kept the rural farm land collective in ownership, it made land use and management rights household-based. Household-based rural economy now faces uncertain future in the context of marketization of productive materials (seeds, fertilizers, pesticides, etc.), urbanization of rural talents, and globalization of capital. The fragmentation of rural community accompanies its difficulty in cultural reproduction. This predicament compels us to search new concepts and practices of development that do not prioritize the interests of city and capital. Efforts to seek alliance and cooperation among rural producers and to rebuild rural community have begun. These valuable experiments are of pivotal importance to forging a future of the rural, to reshaping urban-rural relations, and to redefining “development” in the 21st Century. This workshop is not a conventional academic workshop. While teachers and students concerned with rural issues, as well as grassroots organizers, constitute the majority of this workshop, there are also social work professionals, officials, and media personnel who are supportive of rural cooperatives. Our discussion and debates are oriented towards sharing experiences and perspectives and building common grounds for the social experiments of rural cooperatives. As part of the China-Europe Forum, this workshop aspires to have exchanges between Chinese and European participants. It is our cautious hope that some experiences might be learned from each other provided that we understand each other’s contexts and problems.

Topics for debates

- What kind of space has been created for cooperatives by current policy designs? How will “government departments going down to the countryside” affect the development of cooperatives?
- What are the future directions of rural cooperatives?
- What kinds of conditions are required for the organization of rural cooperatives? How do cooperatives deal with the disparity between “big households” and “small households”?
- Giving the difficulty in rural cultural reproduction, how can rural social work play a role in building a culture of cooperatives?

About us



Professor of Contemporary Chinese Studies and Director of the China and Transitional Economies Research Centre, University of Northampton. I have published widely in the area of green agriculture and property rights in China.

Ada Cavazzani

University of Calabria, Department of Sociology Full professor of Rural Sociology in the Faculty of Economics of the University of Calabria (Italy). Director of the Ph.d. School “Andre Gunder Frank” in Knowledge and Innovations for Development of the Department of Sociology and Political Science (www.sociologia.unical.it). Has been Head of the Department of Sociology and Political Science, of the Radio and Television Centre of the University, of the Regional Observatory of INEA (National Institute of Agrarian Economics). President of the NGO “GAO-Cooperazione Internazionale”. Has conducted research in Italy and abroad (Europe, North and South America, Africa) on rural development, agricultural policies, training and communication, migrations, international cooperation.

Luca Colombo

The Head of research of the Fondazione Diritti Genetici (Genetic Rights Foundation), based in Rome, Italy. He works as researcher and advisor on agro-biotechnological issues. He holds a degree (cum laude) in agronomy and has published articles and books on agronomic and food security issues (Fame, produzione di cibo e sovranità alimentare, 2002, Jaca Book; Grano o grane. La sfida Ogm in Italia, 2006, Manni; Diritti al cibo!, 2009 in press, Jaca Book). He has previously worked for Greenpeace Italy as GMO campaign coordinator and for the Rome Chamber of Commerce. Between 2005 and 2008 he has been member of the Municipality of Rome Ethical Committee. Mr. Colombo is also serving as member of the International Planning Committee (IPC) for Food Sovereignty secretariat, participating in UN Rome based Agencies conferences and meetings and in preparing civil society events, on behalf of the food producers’ organizations network endorsing the food sovereignty principles.

Dale Jiajun Wen

Dale Jiajun Wen is an activist scholar originally from China. She is a senior scientist at Action 2030 Institute (www.action2030.org), a NGO think-tank focusing on long term policy strategies for sustainable development. She was a coordinating lead author of the IAASTD(International Assessment of Agricultural Knowledge, Science & Technology)–an independent and multi-stakeholder international assessment of agriculture conducted by the UN, with similar methodology and process to that of the IPCC.

Workshop’s news

This workshop will take place on July 16-21 at the Center for Rural Studies in Southern China based in Zhongshan University in Guangzhou. The workshop will discuss cooperatives specializing in the fields of agricultural production, linkages between rural producers and urban consumers, rural finance, provision of public goods to rural residents. Discussions will also cover cooperatives that engage in multiple fields (called “comprehensive cooperatives”), as well as existing rural collective economies. Presentations and discussions during the day will be supplemented by evening screening of documentaries that concern cooperatives. This workshop will also include a day trip to a collective rural village near Guangzhou.