Rural talents inject new impetus into China’s rural vitalization

(People's Daily Online) 10:52, June 23, 2022

With the implementation of China’s rural vitalization strategy and rapid development of e-commerce and digital agriculture, many rural talents, armed with Internet knowledge and technologies, are injecting a new impetus into the upgrading of traditional agriculture and the development of rural areas.

Young people introduce a wheat variety at a breeding base in the Yansi neighborhood of Zhoudian village, Liaocheng city, east China’s Shandong Province. (Photo/Zhang Zhenxiang)

Zeng Qinghuan, a video blogger born after 1990 in Xinhua county, Loudi city of central China’s Hunan Province, sold 400,000 yuan (about $59,768) worth of fermented bean curd during a live-streaming session.

With 6 million followers on short video platforms, Zeng sells agricultural and sideline products in her hometown through live-streaming promotion activities at an e-commerce demonstration base located in a farmhouse, which encompasses live broadcasting rooms, storage rooms, cold storage facilities and packaging workshops.

The demonstration base has launched a program to train livestreamers for villages in Xinhua county free of charge and aims to help farmers promote farm produce online.

Facilitating the development of agriculture and rural areas by promoting digital business and e-commerce in rural areas has emerged as an important engine driving economic growth, rural vitalization and industrial development in Xinhua.

As new industries and new business forms and models continue to emerge in rural areas, a large number of rural talents like Zeng have strengthened growth drivers for rural development.

At a smart agricultural industrial park in Lyushan township, Changxing county, east China’s Zhejiang Province, Wang Chenchen, born after 1995, works as a “shepherd” – at least not in the traditional sense – including monitoring the number of sheep, the amount of fodder, and the humidity and temperature of sheep cots in real-time using remote sensing technology.

In Yuli county, northwest China’s Xinjiang Uygur Autonomous Region, Mo Xiaoyu, a young woman from Hunan Province, has worked alongside engineers and helped replace the old irrigation facilities used in the cotton fields with intelligent ones and built an automated system for fertilization and irrigation, which can be supported by remote control, having already completed several trials.

Digital technologies such as big data, 5G, artificial intelligence and the Internet of Things (IoT) have become new farm tools. This is inseparable from China’s fast information infrastructure construction in rural areas. As of the end of 2021, all administrative villages in the country had been connected to broadband Internet services. The number of rural internet users in China has reached 284 million, with the Internet penetration rate in rural areas meanwhile reaching 57.6 percent, according to data from the China Internet Network Information Center.

Rural talents have boosted sales of agricultural products and local employment through livestreaming e-commerce, built regional brands for local agricultural products, and helped vitalize rural areas and advance common prosperity, said Hong Yong, an associate research fellow at the Institute of E-commerce of the Chinese Academy of International Trade and Economic Cooperation under the Ministry of Commerce.

By leveraging their expertise, rural talents can further the development of new agriculture, help rural residents find jobs and increase their incomes, said Wu Qi, executive director of the Wuxi Institute of Digital Economy.

In February 2021, the General Office of the Communist Party of China Central Committee and the General Office of the State Council released a guideline on the acceleration of talent training for rural revitalization, which said that efforts should be made to cultivate rural talents.

In February 2022, China issued a guideline on comprehensively pushing forward rural vitalization this year, calling for greater efforts to develop digital villages by pushing for smart agriculture and promoting the integration of information technology and agronomy and agro-techniques, and to boost farmers’ digital literacy and skills.

“Governments at every level in China have attached great importance to cultivating new types of rural talents and launched a series of favorable policies in this regard,” Hong said.

To retain rural talents, Hong suggested addressing their difficulties in starting businesses, such as making financing more accessible for them and providing more training sessions on expertise in Internet marketing, planting skills and other aspects

Wu advised providing rural talents with a better business environment and helping them exploit their potential to the fullest to retain them locally.

(Web editor: Hongyu, Bianji)