Haydn Green Institute for Innovation and Entrepreneurship

Eco-agriculture innovation system for rural transition in ecologically fragile areas


In the context of carbon neutrality and sustainable development goals (SDGs) in the global south, eco-agricultural development is vital to carbon emissions.

It involves two interwoven changes: agricultural transition to reduce chemical use with high efficiency in land and resource uses; and the transformation of over 500 million smallholder farmers in terms of attitudes, production and organisational styles. It calls for an eco-agriculture innovation system (EAIS) which is comprised of agricultural scientists, innovative farmers and other stakeholders (e.g., enterprises, government agencies) to facilitate and coordinate technological and social innovation.

This project aims to explore pathways, conditions and mechanisms to establish and maintain the EAIS for eco-agricultural development and transformation of smallholder farmers in ecologically fragile areas towards sustainable livelihoods, industrial revitalisation, environmental improvement and carbon reduction. 

With a geographic focus on the Loess Plateau, a region of China suffering from soil erosion in history and also experiencing in the growth of forestry covering since the 21st century, a partnership between CFRS and Institute of Soil and Water Conservation (ISWC), part of the Chinese Academy of Sciences, is established to facilitate ECR collaboration by focusing on, but not be limited to, one of following themes:

  1. What can we learn from theoretic exploration and development practices in Grain for Green, Targeted Poverty Alleviation, and pillar industrial development in this region over the past two decades? What are key factors responsible for agricultural and rural transition in the past, and what are challenges to be addressed? What roles and contributions have research institutes (including ISWC) and researchers made? What are the knowledge gaps and challenge facing research institutes to meet the needs of both agricultural and rural transition in this region?
  2. What are the successful cases, key factors, conditions and mechanisms of EAIS in ecologically fragile areas? What experiences and lessons can be shared in the development of EAIS in different countries or regions? 
  3. What experiences and cases can be shared during the participating of research institutes and researchers in the national projects such as Grain for Green, Targeted Poverty Alleviation and local pillar industrial development in the poor areas? How can the concept of EAIS contribute to the functional improvement or upgrading of current Expert Courtyard, S & T Backyard and wild stations?  
  4. How to tackle the dilemma of the "last mile" or bottleneck of innovation diffusion?  By what mechanisms can new professionals be mobilised, trained and organised to work with multiple stakeholders and facilitate eco-agricultural development and transformation of smallholders?

Based upon the partnership between CFRS and ISWC, we welcome young scholars with interests, ideas and practical experiences to join our team for joint research design, funding application, data analysis or multi-case comparison for high-quality publications, policy recommendations or to social impact cases.  

ECR: Tibin Zhang (ISWC, CAS ), Qirui Li (University of Bayreuth), Kamal Alskaf (UoN)

Mentors: Hao Feng (ISWC, CAS), Bin Wu (UoN), Gubo Qi (CAU)

Contact: Tibin Zhang

Nottingham University Business School

Jubilee Campus

Email: ingenuitylab@nottingham.ac.uk