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«Juanwen Yuan Thesis committee Thesis supervisor Prof. dr. A. Niehof Professor of Sociology of Consumers and Households Wageningen University Thesis ...»

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Zhang never migrated, not even in the collective period. But he used to make bamboo products and sold them in the past. At the time of the interview, he had given that up because the product was no longer as profitable as before.

Apparently, customers no longer valued bamboo products because people use more manufactured products. The couple was also selling petrol for motorcycles because their house is located beside the main road and many motorcycles pass there.

They felt that life was better, although they were still so busy with agriculture and their grandchildren. They faced many difficulties when all their children were still in school. They had to sell rice every week, even though there was not enough of it. They had to borrow money from relatives and friends. At the time of the interview, they had extra rice to sell. Lan told me that most of her daughters-in-law were very strong; she could not control them even if she would feel unhappy with them. The daughters-in-law always replied: “We have enough food and money, even if we do not work as hard as you”. She said that when she was young, the young women worked in the fields and their parents looked after their children. Now she had to cook for the younger generation, take care of the grandchildren, and look after their lands. The couple really thought that the younger couples are very lazy, yet the younger couples have enough money because of their long-term migration.

8.9 Discussion and conclusions The above results and cases show that, for the 2000s cohort, marriages are not arranged. For the 1990s cohort, most marriages are not arranged, but for the two older cohorts, most marriages are arranged by their parents. For Buyi people in these two cohorts, the custom of zuojia strictly applies, and they did not deliver their first child at a very young age.

Long-term migration and circular work are very common in the 1980s, 1990s, and 2000s cohorts. Their main income is from these two resources. No matter how large their landholding is, their motivation to migrate is very strong because this is where the most money can be made. Half of the younger couples migrate together and leave their children behind with their parents. In the younger cohorts, half of the couples choose to stay at home with their children when these are still young. Usually, the husband does circular work or has a business, while the wife is looking after the field and the children. However, women from the 1970s cohort have no experience with long-term migration or circular work. Yet, some men from this cohort even migrated during the collective period. Usually, this cohort carries a heavier burden because they have to take care of their children’s land and house and of their grandchildren. Huang and Song (2005) also showed that children are usually left behind with their grandparents when their parents migrate. There are few households in which the wife migrates and the husband is left at home. When women migrate, men always feel upset and find it difficult to manage the household activities. Murphy (2004) has also found that when married women migrate, some married men, feeling the double burden of

176 Chapter 8

farming and housework, push their wives to come back. Yet, the wife is always supporting her husband to migrate, even if that means that she has to carry a greater burden. She then tries to solve all problems herself.

The 2000s cohort is constantly looking for money for their children’s daily cost of living and education. They have usually migrated before they got married.

Now, they are still planning to migrate or they have indeed migrated and left their children behind. They do not care about land very much and are really interested in long-term migration. The 1990s cohort is in the most difficult life stage, because they really need to pay a lot for their children’s education and have to take care of their parents as well. They also need to build their new houses. More households migrate and rent out their land. If they are engaged in agriculture at home, they try to cultivate more cash crops, e.g. tobacco or fruit trees, in order to make more money. Life for the 1980s cohort is better, because their children migrate but they often have no grandchildren yet, or the grandchildren are still too young to be left behind. People from this cohort usually do circular work to balance more profitable work with agricultural production. The 1970s cohort has to take care of the grandchildren left behind during migration periods. They are very busy and hardly have other opportunities to make money besides from agriculture. For this reason, they prefer to rent land to cultivate. There used to be food security problems in the collective era and in the early stage of the HRS, but these problems were soon solved completely.

For all cohorts, more women stick to agriculture and arrange the production. They make more decisions about this because most men have other activities that they consider to be more economically valuable. Where building houses and other activities are concerned, however, men still make the decisions.

The division of labour for men and women still exists even though it has become blurred for some activities. Generally, men do physically demanding work and women do light and time-consuming work.

In the collective era, women usually earned less work points than adult males, but their participation and hard work guaranteed the smooth operation of the collective (see also Li, 2005a). Roberts (2004) has also shown that more than half of the returned migrants migrate again after marriage. About half of the returned migrants migrate again with their spouse. Younger generations are more exposed to the outside world and want to change their lifestyles. Younger cohorts pay more attention to taking care of their children than to agriculture, if they have enough money from migration. Currently, an increasing number of people like to work outside of their home community to earn a higher income; they use cash to employ people from poor villages to cultivate their land. There are fewer conflicts now than there were in the past. At that time, there used to be many quarrels about land and houses. Nowadays, the number of quarrels is decreasing, because, on the one hand, the villagers and younger generations do not value land as much as before, and, on the other hand, people generally are more open-minded.

Social resources are important for all the cohorts and play a role in migration, agricultural production, food security, education, doing business, and when urgent needs arise. Their form, however, is changing. Community help is decreasing, but help from relatives is still massive.

177Farming households and the Household Responsibility System

This chapter shows that the rural household has changed in many respects, including agricultural production. Agricultural extension policies should respond to these changes in order to be efficient. The following chapter aims to discuss agricultural extension and farming households’ adoption of it in the changing context, in view of formulating better agricultural extension policies.

–  –  –

This chapter describes the agricultural technology extension, villagers’ access to channels of information about, and adoption of, agricultural technology. It addresses the questions of whether the agricultural technology extension process matches the needs of the villagers, and whether there are gender differences and differences between the older and younger cohorts of farming households in the use of extension services and the adoption of technologies.

The research methods used in collecting the information for this chapter are secondary data collection, the household survey (sample 160), participant observation, focus group discussions (FGDs) and key informant interviews with extension workers, municipal officials, and villagers. These methods are described in detail in Chapter 5. In all the FGDs, technology extension and adoption was discussed in relation to the topic of land use.

9.1 The extension structure The Chinese government has a multi-level management system, which is described in Chapter 4. Below, I will briefly introduce the structure of the government extension system in terms of the extension bureaus, management, and procedures.

This section is mainly from secondary data, interviews with township officials and extension workers.

Extension bureaus Several bureaus are involved in agriculture and animal husbandry extension activities at the county level. The two main bureaus that have projects in this municipality are the County Agricultural Bureau (CAB) and the County Agriculture and Poverty Alleviation Office (CAPAO).

The CAB is mainly responsible for agricultural technology and the extension of new varieties of crops. There are ten sections at the county level. The bureau has stations in each municipality, each station being responsible for the implementation of the activities of the CAB. The station in the municipality of Kaizuo counts four staff members, of whom two are male and two are female. This station has two bosses, one employed by the CAB and the other employed by the municipal government. The staff is often involved in helping the municipal government to finish urgent and important tasks, e.g. tobacco production, which they do at the expense of the time they can spend on agricultural technology extension.

The CAPAO is mainly responsible for the management of poverty alleviation projects. There are three sections in this office. In the past, the office was mainly responsible for projects related to building infrastructure (roads, electricity, and water), but several years ago, the focus begun to shift to agricultural

–  –  –

technology and animal husbandry. CAPAO has no station at the municipal level; it carries out projects itself or asks for the help of the municipal government.

Management and procedure Management is usually quite top-down in China. At least four administrative levels can be distinguished: the central level, the provincial level, the prefectural level (or city level) and the county level. Some bureaus have representatives at the municipal level as well. The municipal agricultural station is dually managed by the county bureau and by the municipal government and the CAPAO, which has no representative in the municipality. Recently, the Chinese government is discouraging the municipal government’s management of the agricultural station, in an effort to make management more efficient.

The two county bureaus apply for projects at the provincial level. Usually, the provincial government decides to allocate money to projects or programmes.

The money for these may come from the central or the provincial government. The county level formulates the proposal to apply for project money. In the past, they had to submit the proposals to the prefectural level first, after which the prefectural level would apply to the provincial bureau. During the past three years, the county bureaus usually apply for project money directly at the provincial bureaus.

Sometimes, the county bureaus ask each municipality to submit a proposal and only send the best ones to the higher levels. But mostly, these bureaus prepare the proposals themselves. The money allocation is also multi-layered. In the past, the provincial bureaus would allocate money to the prefectural bureaus first, after which the prefectural bureaus allocated money to the county bureaus. The prefectural bureaus either did or did not manage the project money themselves. If not, they would still have administrative responsibility for the implementation of the projects. During the past three years, the money has been allocated to the county level directly, and the prefectural bureaus have less power. The municipal stations have limited opportunities to get money for their own plans and normally implement the projects that the county bureaus require them to do. The CAPAO has no municipal station and needs the help of the municipal government to assist in the implementation of projects. Project application is a long process and there is usually little time for the preparation of proposals. The staff in the bureaus writes the proposals, without consulting the villagers. Because it is difficult to get the money for projects, the main thing is to get a project, even if it is not well suited to the local situation. Often, the project money is received several months after the planned start of the project. This shortens the implementation period, which compromises the project’s quality (Sun, 2007).

9.2 Extension activities and interventions As mentioned in previous chapters, farming households tried their best to use hybrid rice to solve their food security problems with the support of government extension agencies. The adoption of hybrid rice is popular in the municipality. Since the implementation of the Household Responsibility System (HRS), households are

180 Chapter 9

mainly using hybrid rice seeds; nowadays, it is difficult to find local rice varieties in the municipality. In the following sections, I will discuss five important extension initiatives recently introduced in the municipality, which were not as successful as the introduction of hybrid rice. The information was obtained through participant observation and interviews.

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