Agriculture and Human Values

, Volume 36, Issue 1, pp 61–75 | Cite as

Doing but not knowing: how apple farmers comply with standards in China

  • Jiping Ding
  • Paule Moustier
  • Xingdong Ma
  • Xuexi Huo
  • Xiangping JiaEmail author


Are public and private standards affecting farmer knowledge and moving farm practices toward food safety and environmental sustainability in China? We surveyed 355 apple farmers involved in chains supplying a diversity of retailing points, including supermarkets. Using a multivariate regression model, we find no measurable evidence that the certification schemes of farm bases and agribusiness companies lead to improved apple growers’ knowledge regarding pest and disease management. The observed behavioral changes are mainly prompted by delegated decision-making towards leaders of farm bases, which raises questions on the long-term changes in farmers’ practices and on the fundamental values and ethics of China’s agrofood system that is governed through the standards.


Agrifood chain Knowledge Food safety Food system Ethic and values 



We thank the anonymous referees and the journal editor for suggestions that have improved the paper. We are also grateful for funding support from the National Natural Science Foundation of China (71573209), the talent Recruitment Program of Northwest A & F University, PhD Star-up Fund of Northwest A&F University (2452015328), the National Key Research and Development Program of China (2016YFD0201303), the “Sustainapple” program from the French National Research Agency (ANR-13-ALID-004).


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Copyright information

© Springer Nature B.V. 2018

Authors and Affiliations

  • Jiping Ding
    • 1
  • Paule Moustier
    • 2
  • Xingdong Ma
    • 1
  • Xuexi Huo
    • 1
  • Xiangping Jia
    • 1
    • 3
    Email author
  1. 1.College of Economics & ManagementNorthwest A & F UniversityYanglingPeople’s Republic of China
  2. 2.MOISA, CIRADMontpellierFrance
  3. 3.Entrepreneurship & Transformation (E&T), Embassy of SwitzerlandBeijingPeople’s Republic of China

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