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Study on the Efficiency of Smallholder Tea Contract Farming in Central Taiwan
|關鍵字:||茶;台灣;契作;效率;小農;表現程度分析法;投入;生產;行銷;Tea;Taiwan;Contract farming;Efficiency;Smallholder;IPA;Inputs;Production;Marketing.||引用:||References Ajibefun, I.A. & Abdulkadri, A.O. (1999). An investigation of technical inefficiency production of farmers under the National Directorate of Employment in Ondo State, Nigeria. Applied Economics Letter 6:111–114 Ali, M. & Chaudhry, M.A. (1990). Interregional farm efficiency in Pakistan's Punjabi. A frontier production function study. J. Agric. Econ. 41:62–73. Armbruster, W. J., & Knutson, R. D. (2013). Evolution of agricultural and food markets. In US Programs Affecting Food and Agricultural Marketing (pp. 3-10). Springer New York. Barrett, et.al (2012). Smallholder participation in contract farming: comparative evidence from five countries. World development, 40(4): 715–730. Bentz, V. M., & Shapiro, J. J. (1998). Mindful inquiry in social research. Sage. Benz, C. & Newman, I. 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此研究採用表現程度分析法( Interpretative Phenomenological Analysis, IPA) 是應用於分析訪談資料的方法，本研究發現台灣地區的農業契作方式與世界上其他大部分國家不同。大多數台灣茶園採農場經營模式，例如自己栽種茶葉銷售給其他公司，也會嘗試建立自有品牌直接銷售給消費者。農民和A公司契作，其公司承擔部分包含投入、訓練、信貸及收成等成本；然而和B公司契作的農民，僅由B公司提供技術，並不保證投入、訓練、信貸或收成等成本承擔，然而這些農民仍可習得加工技術與進入利基市場。
Taiwan's agricultural sector has faced increased pressure from rapid economic development and soaring labor costs in recent decades. World trade organization (WTO) accession in January 2002 and subsequent trade liberalization have brought more challenges, as Taiwan fulfills its WTO commitments of opening its markets and eliminating protective trade measures. Also, Taiwan is characterized mainly by small-scale farms which makes it difficult to accumulate capital, increase investments, and expand the scale of operations using mechanized cultivation methods.
This study seeks to investigate the efficiency of tea contract farming in central Taiwan which is the major tea producing area, because both tea production and exports have been on the decline. This is mainly due to rising labor cost and increased domestic consumption. In response, tea growers have focused more on domestic market and improvements in standards and quality attributes and also registration for certification trademarks. The focus of the study is on the role of contract farming in linking smallholder farmers to buyers/marketers through advance agreements, pricing, production practices and quality control.
The study utilized a qualitative research methodology because of the number of participants' involved and the little body of research on this area of study. In that regard a deep understanding of tea contract farming efficiency can be achieved through in-depth interviews using semi-structured interview questions. Two tea firms with their corresponding contracted growers participated in this research. Firm managers first and then farmers take turns in answering interview questions. The interview questions mainly focus on phenomena such as accessing inputs and lowering production costs, risk sharing, and also access to high-end markets.
Interpretative Phenomenological Analysis (IPA) was utilized to analyze interview data. The study found that tea contract farming in Taiwan is different from contract farming found in most parts of the world. Most tea farms in Taiwan are farm business i.e. they cultivate tea and sell to other firms as well as process and try to create their own brand and sell to consumers. Farmers contracted to firm A gain access to inputs, training, credit and all harvest is purchased by the firm. On the other hand farmers contracted to firm B do not have access to inputs, training or credit and purchase of all the harvest is not guaranteed, however they got skilled processing techniques and a niche market.
In conclusion, the small-scale nature of firms and farm businesses makes contracting efficient and enables the sharing of production as well as marketing risks. In addition contracting enables improvements in quality standards through input supplies or monitoring by firms and also access to high end markets is achieved. Contracts can also lead to improvements in production technology due to access to training. However, contracts in both cases are merely oral agreements with no third parties involved. The relationships survive based on trust. Production costs are lowered due to shared responsibilities and both growers and firms in both cases claim to be satisfied with contracting. Hence, it is deemed effective.
Key words: Tea, Taiwan, Contract farming, Efficiency, Smallholder, IPA, Inputs, Production, Marketing.
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