Information, trust and pesticide overuse: Interactions between retailers and cotton farmers in China

S. Jin*, B. Bluemling, A.P.J. Mol

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticleAcademicpeer-review

90 Citations (Scopus)


In the absence of adequate extension services, retailers have become the major information source for farmers’ pesticide use in rural China. Pesticide application for smallholders is rather complex, and mistakes can lead to significant crop losses. Farmers, therefore, seek sources of information regarding pesticide use. This paper first explores how different kinds of retailers may employ different strategies of providing information to farmers. We find that for village, town, and county retailers, the more familiar they are with farmers, the more likely they are to amplify the recommended dosage of pesticide use. In cooperatives, who buy pesticides from an extension station, the information is directly transferred to member farmers without information distortion. Apart from examining retailers’ different strategies of information provision, this paper also asks in how far farmers’ trust in retailers may affect pesticide use. It finds that trust in different kinds of retailers indeed varies and plays a critical role in converting information into farming behavior. Members of the cooperative show rather high levels of trust in their retailer, while farmers who are not members of a cooperative show low levels of trust in retailers. Pesticide use is a joint result of retailers’ information provision strategies and farmers’ trust. The lowest pesticide use occurs when accurate information is provided and when farmers highly trust the information provider. Overuse occurs with either information distortion or low levels of trust. Cooperatives have advantages both in terms of information provision and trust, thereby leading to the lowest use of pesticides.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)23-32
JournalNJAS Wageningen Journal of Life Sciences
Publication statusPublished - 2015


  • risk perceptions
  • bt cotton
  • knowledge
  • management
  • pest
  • workers
  • health
  • costs
  • crops
  • ipm


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