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Journal of Rural Studies
Vol. 37, 2015, Pages: 29–37

Communitarian cooperative organic rice farming in Hongdong District, South Korea

Jungho Suh

Geography, Environment and Population, School of Social Sciences, The University of Adelaide, Adelaide, SA 5005, Australia.


It is often questioned whether sustainable agriculture by smallholder farmers can phase out conventional agriculture. This paper draws on a case study of organic rice farming in Hongdong District, South Korea, and provides insights into communitarian cooperative organic farming, a collective organic farming model. Various organic farming practices (e.g. integrated rice–duck farming) have been collectively adopted by small-scale rice farmers in Hongdong since 1994. Organic rice farming in Hongdong is characterised by place-based cooperatives, community-supported agriculture, and strong community leadership. Hongdong has demonstrated that communitarianism and smallholder cooperatives can work for each other complementarily and therefore that communitarian organic farming through smallholder cooperatives is highly operational. The Hongdong organic farming model is of great relevance to other parts of rice-growing Asia, which are dominated by smallholding farmers, in terms of the twin goals of food security and food safety.

Keywords: Smallholder cooperatives; Communitarianism; Integrated rice–duck farming; Organic food certification; Village-making.

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