Factors Affect Chinese Producers' Adoption of a New Production Technology: Survey Results from Chinese Fruits Producers

By Xu, Pei; Wang, Zhigang | Agricultural Economics Review, July 1, 2012 | Go to article overview

Factors Affect Chinese Producers' Adoption of a New Production Technology: Survey Results from Chinese Fruits Producers


Xu, Pei, Wang, Zhigang, Agricultural Economics Review


Abstract

This study develops an expected utility model to examine Chinese fruit farmers' adoption of a newly introduced production technology, the artisan fruit production technique. We analyzed a three-stage adoption process and examined factors influencing farmers' adoption decision in each stage. Survey data collected from 398 fruit farmers were used to quantify farmers' probability to understand, actually adopt, and determine the magnitude of adoption. We found that farmers' adoption varies with their education, plans to expand, and their risk concerns regarding the new technology. We also detected that adoption changes with farm accessibility to government supported agricultural assistances and the availability of privately funded fruit cooperatives. Overall the three-stage adoption framework performs well in adjusting potential sample selection bias problems.

Keywords: Agricultural production technology adoption; fruit production technology adoption; Chinese fruit farmers' adoption behavior; artisan fruit production technology; three-stage adoption in fruit production; Heckman Probit application in adoption

(ProQuest: ... denotes formulae omitted.)

Introduction

As the world's third largest apple producer and a large producer of fruits in general, China has prioritized its fruit production by adding acres into production and improving unit yields. Planting areas reached 5 million acres in 2008 and per acre yield rose from 1.9 metric tons in 1995 to 4.6 metric tons in 2008 (Zhai et al. 2008). In addition, new fruit breeds and technologies have been widely adopted by farmers, leading to enhanced output. The resulting supply surplus in the domestic market has caused falling apple prices, which have dramatically reduced farm level profits. Under tremendous pressure from the market, Chinese fruit producers have started planting value-added fruits. Using new production technologies, namely the artisan fruit production technology, farmers have begun to grow premium fruits to be sold at a price seven to nine times higher than regular fruits (China Daily online, 2009). This innovative technology selects visuallyappealing fruits at a late stage of maturity and manually glues onto them Chinese letters and figures to create pictures on the surface of the fruits. Exploiting the natural process of photosynthesis, these figures block sunlight from reaching the surface of the fruit, inhibiting natural color change, thus revealing the figure's pattern upon the surface of the fruit. Designing and carving the figures and letters is itself an art form, and it takes considerable effort to choose the ideal fruits, paste the figures, adjust the position of the fruits to collect sunlight, harvest the fruits with additional care, and pack the fruits into delicate gift boxes. Apples, peaches, pears, and persimmons are popular value-added artisan fruits. Figure 1 shows a sample of artisan apples packed in a gift box. The letters read "Happy Birthday", with pictures of a dragon and a heart printed on the fruits.

This value-added innovation was introduced in 1992 in the Yantain County of Shangdong province, China's largest apple production province. Apple producers developed the idea of "painting" on their fruits to specialize their products. Unexpectedly, the market demand for the artisan fruits sky-rocketed, generating considerable returns. The technology then quickly spreads to other fruit production regions in China, including Beijing's biggest fruit production counties of Fangshan, Changpin, Pinggu and Daxing, from which data for this study were collected. The production of artisan fruit requires the selection of large fruits with an even color and balanced shape. Thus, it is the variety a farm grows, not the size of the farm, that determines its involvement in this new technology. Smaller farms that produce big fruit are observed to be more likely to engage in this value-added technology. Uncertain output, changing consumer preferences, and intense competition from imported fruits are reasons that influence adoptions. …

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