Sustainable Development in Western China
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Sustainable Development in Western China

Managing People, Livestock and Grasslands in Pastoral Areas

Colin G. Brown

This much-needed study provides a unique examination of the intricate web of policies and institutions that now impact on grassland degradation and sustainable development in China’s pastoral region. Understanding this complex matrix and its impact on the management of people, livestock, grasslands, markets and industry structures is crucial in charting a way forward. The authors argue that the aim should be to manage these inter-locking complex systems in a manner that takes advantage of the opportunities that technology present to achieve sustainable use of the grasslands.
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Chapter 7: Managing Markets

Colin G. Brown


Low product prices are often blamed for the problems besetting the pastoral region. The argument claims that herders do not receive fair remuneration for their products and that the flow-on adverse effects on their incomes create pressures to expand production and overutilize grasslands. Claims of this type warrant close investigation both to avoid perverse policy responses and to prevent attention being diverted to areas where the benefits may be modest. Nonetheless it is clear that markets for livestock products in the pastoral region do not operate perfectly. Information asymmetries, a lack of core marketing services and infrastructure and high transaction costs all create the potential for market failure and hence the need for some form of remedial intervention. Furthermore, government policies in related markets as well as in other parts of the grassland livestock system have impacted on the markets for ruminant livestock products from the pastoral areas. Thus an investigation of the instruments used to influence markets in pastoral areas is warranted along with an assessment of what changes to that intervention may be needed. Several studies have investigated the operation of agricultural markets in China, especially grain markets in the more intensive agricultural areas (see for example Huang and Rozelle 2006). Various ruminant livestock product markets of interest to the pastoral region have been analysed by the authors of this book. For example Waldron et al. (2003, chapter 11) examined policies needed to facilitate efficiently functioning beef markets while Waldron et al. (2007) described and...

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