Chinese villagers explore Internet-based channels to sell agricultural products

(People's Daily Online) 10:15, April 15, 2021

E-commerce pioneers in the rural areas of China have innovated Internet-based sales channels for agricultural products in accordance with the needs of the times, such as opening online stores, filming short videos and hosting live broadcasts.

1. Tian Jianghai handles online orders. (People's Daily/Chen Jufeng)

2. Luo Dong records videos at a mango orchard. (People's Daily/Li Zong)

3. Hai Yan hosts a live broadcast to promote agricultural products. (File photo)

Data Source: China's Ministry of Commerce

In 2016, Tian Jianghai, a resident in Tianheping village, Changyang Tujia autonomous county, in central China's Hubei province, quit his job at an Internet company in Hangzhou, in east China's Zhejiang province, and returned to his hometown to start a business.

He was already well aware of the difficulties associated with the sale and marketing of local agricultural products, and so he went about opening an online store to sell farm produce grown in the county, such as ponkan mandarins and navel oranges. In 2016 alone, the total sales for his online store exceeded 2 million yuan ($310,000).

To better ensure the quality of products, Tian raised funds adding up to over 5 million yuan and built a production base that covers an area of more than 6,000 square meters in Dayan town in the county, which could process a variety of agricultural products like ear mushrooms starting from 2017.

Since 2019, he has invested about 300,000 yuan to build live-streaming studios for promoting local products, but initially saw only limited results due to a lack of viewers. With the help of the local government, his company sought to cooperate with influential webcast hosts and even established a special live-streaming operations team. Within three months, the company sold products worth over 6 million yuan via live broadcasts.

Inspired by his years of experience in the sales sector, Luo Dong, a 38-year-old resident in Santong village, Naman town, Baise, in south China's Guangxi Zhuang autonomous region, started to sell local mangoes via online platforms together with several fellow villagers in 2018. They sold over 6,000 boxes of mangoes and registered a sales revenue of more than 500,000 yuan that year.

"In recent years, my hometown has improved the roads, facilitated logistics channels, and established express delivery stations," Luo noted.

In 2019, Luo registered a mango brand and began cooperating with the mango planting cooperatives in his village. "I have begun running an express delivery station to cut the costs of logistics, ensuring high-quality products and uniform packaging to improve the brand," he said.

At the beginning of 2020, Luo took part in a rural e-commerce training course held by the local government and started to realize that short-form videos and live broadcasts were some of the rising trends in the future of e-commerce. He soon learned to promote products via short-form videos and live-streaming, and his short-form videos have already been viewed more than 6 million times.

A poverty alleviation factory in Yuanlong village, Minning town, Yinchuan, in northwest China's Ningxia Hui autonomous region, has set up a live-streaming team and established a studio to sell products produced in the factory.

To better prepare the live-streaming team, which is mostly made up of hardworking villagers with poor educational backgrounds , the factory provided training to the members on how to use computers and helped them memorize the most often used words in broadcasts. Only three months after live-streaming activities were first launched, the broadcasting team was already achieving a monthly sales revenue of over 100,000 yuan.

"I'm now on a steadier income, and can also learn new skills from others," said Hai Yan, one of the members, who feels that her life is now richer and more varied.

China's online retail industry in its countryside has grown rapidly in recent years, becoming a new driver for rural development. Data from China's Ministry of Commerce suggest that the value of online retail sales in rural areas of the country rose to 1.79 trillion yuan in 2020, and that in the country's previous 832 national-level poverty-stricken counties this number exceeded 301.4 billion yuan.

(Web editor: Hongyu, Liang Jun)