Ne­ti­zens gob­ble up wa­ter­melon mi­cro blog

China Daily (Canada) - - CHINA - By QI XIN in Zhengzhou and WANG XIAODONG in Bei­jing

A govern­ment agency that uses a mi­cro blog to help farm­ers sell wa­ter­mel­ons has be­come an In­ter­net sen­sa­tion.

The Of­fice for Wa­ter­melon Sales Ser­vice in Zhengzhou, He­nan prov­ince, opened its mi­cro blog on Sina Weibo, the most pop­u­lar mi­cro-blog­ging plat­form in China, on May 28. It is ar­guably the only govern­ment agency in China that ex­clu­sively han­dles wa­ter­melon sales af­fairs.

The of­fice named its ac­count “Wa­ter­melon Of­fice” be­cause it is sim­ple and easy to re­mem­ber, it said.

How­ever, the name im­me­di­ately aroused cu­rios­ity among ne­ti­zens, many of whom said they had never heard of such a govern­ment depart­ment han­dling only wa­ter­melon af­fairs. By Thurs­day, the mi­cro blog had at­tracted more than 22,200 fol­low­ers.

A dis­cus­sion among ne­ti­zens fo­cused on whether it is nec­es­sary to set up such a govern­ment agency.

Li Jian­jun, a staff mem­ber of the of­fice, said the agency was es­tab­lished in 2006 to help farm­ers sell their wa­ter­mel­ons and in­crease their in­come. Wa­ter­melon is a ma­jor pro­duce item in Zhengzhou and many other ar­eas in He­nan dur­ing sum­mer and is con­sumed in large quan­ti­ties each year.

The of­fice is just a tem­po­rary or­ga­ni­za­tion com­prised of staff from var­i­ous govern­ment de­part­ments, and the of­fice op­er­ates only from June to Oc­to­ber, the peak sea­son for wa­ter­melon sales, Li said.

Xu Fengy­ong, a farmer in Anyang, He­nan prov­ince, suf­fered a big loss last year when 250 met­ric tons of ripe wa­ter­mel­ons that he grew rot­ted on the farm­land due to rainy weather, ac­cord­ing to one news me­dia re­port. The re­main­ing 100 tons of wa­ter­mel­ons were also stranded on the farm­land due to lack of trans­porta­tion, but were later sold at lower prices af­ter the me­dia re­port was pub­lished.

“Nowa­days weibo can spread in­for­ma­tion more quickly and broadly, and serves bet­ter to solve the prob­lems (fac­ing wa­ter­melon farm­ers),” the of­fice said.

A wa­ter­melon farmer who only gave his sur­name, Dong, said that he does not know how to use weibo, al­though he would ap­pre­ci­ate help from the of­fice.

The of­fice said it knows that many wa­ter­melon farm­ers may not use weibo. “But it is very likely that their chil­dren or rel­a­tives can.”

The of­fice has des­ig­nated two staff mem­bers to main­tain the mi­cro blog ac­count, and it has in­vited a VIP user to be a con­sul­tant, said Han Ruit­ing, from the of­fice.

“We have to re­ply to ques­tions by weibo users con­stantly, and two people are not enough,” she said. “An­other three to five will join to main­tain the weibo.”

By Thurs­day, the of­fice had up­loaded more than 60 posts on the mi­cro blog, at­tract­ing thou­sands of com­ments.

Qi Zhi­jing, a res­i­dent of Zhengzhou, said he ap­pre­ci­ated that the of­fice was us­ing the new method to serve wa­ter­melon farm­ers, and said the mi­cro blog also of­fers a place for res­i­dents like him to give sug­ges­tions.

The of­fice will set up 595 spe­cial stalls in busy ar­eas in Zhengzhou for wa­ter­melon sales this year, said Li from the wa­ter­melon of­fice. Con­tact the writ­ers at qixin@chi­ and wangx­i­aodong@ chi­


A wa­ter­melon ven­dor shows his fruit to a cus­tomer in Zhengzhou, cap­i­tal of He­nan prov­ince, in July. The Zhengzhou govern­ment has cre­ated a mi­cro blog to help farm­ers sell wa­ter­mel­ons.

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