What Explains the Continuous Increase of Total Agricultural Output in China?


Rice Farmer, Longsheng, China
Xiang Ma (HKUST)
27 Apr 2017 (Thursday)
4:00 - 5:00 pm
IAS2042, 2/F, Lo Ka Chung Building, Lee Shau Kee Campus, HKUST

Key insights

IEMS Researcher Ma Xiang (HKUST) examines private innovation in China’s agricultural sector. In his Academic Seminar, he examined the growth in agricultural output since China liberalized its seed industry in 2000, opening the industry to new entrants. 

Where previously the seed industry would be locally monopolized, opening the market to competition has contributed to an increase in agricultural R&D activity. This liberalization in the industry has changed the innovation-incentives for agricultural researchers, driving the development of more resilient seeds with higher yield. 

Commenting on his findings, Xiang remarks that “the most important takeaway is that economic growth depends on technological advance, which requires that we incentivize researchers.” 


In contrast to the stagnation of agriculture in Africa, agriculture sees continuous growth in other continents. In particular, China had seen a continuous growth in agriculture for more than a decade by 2015. So what explains the continuous increase of total agricultural output in China? I shall pay particular attention to the increase in agricultural R&D and the change in the market structure of seed industry. China liberalized its seed industry in 2000. The seed industry was locally monopolized before the liberalization and it becomes more and more competitive thereafter. I shall discuss the impacts of this liberalization on the incentive of agricultural researchers to develop seeds of higher quality and suggest an explanation for the continuous increase of total agricultural output in China.

About the Speaker

Xiang Ma is a postdoctoral fellow at Institute for Emerging Market Studies and Institute for Advanced Study, Hong Kong University of Science and Technology. He received his PhD in Economics from Yale University. His research has been focusing on public good provision and agriculture in emerging markets. During graduate study, he won the Cowles Foundation Fellowship and the Ryoichi Sasakawa Young Leaders Fellowship.

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