Does certified food production reduce agro chemical use in China?

Zihan Nie*, Nico Heerink, Qin Tu, Shuqin Jin

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticleAcademicpeer-review

16 Citations (Scopus)


Purpose: The purpose of this paper is to examine the effect of adopting certified food production on chemical fertilizer and pesticide use in China. Design/methodology/approach: The authors estimate fixed effect models to track the changes in agro chemical consumption at household level over time and evaluate the effect of certified food production, using an unbalanced panel data set covering 4,830 households in six provinces over the period 2005–2013. Findings: On average, the authors do not find significant effects of certified food production on either chemical fertilizer or pesticide consumption among Chinese farmers. The effects are heterogeneous across villages, but the heterogeneous effects show no clear pattern that is consistent with different types of certification. The findings are robust to the use of alternative panel structure and certification indicators. The lack of knowledge about certification among farmers, the price premium and differences in regulation enforcement across regions may explain why the authors do not find negative effects on agro chemical use. Practical implications: This study suggests that careful inspections and strong enforcement of certified food production is needed to ensure that the environmental goals of certified food production can be achieved and the reputation of certification in China can be improved. The inspection of certification producers and the enforcement of current regulations should be stricter for the further healthy development of certified food production in China. Originality/value: This study is the first attempt to systematically evaluate the impact of food certification on the use of agro chemicals in Chinese agriculture.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)386-405
JournalChina Agricultural Economic Review
Issue number3
Publication statusPublished - 3 Sept 2018


  • China
  • Fertilizer
  • Food certification
  • Pesticide

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