Farm­ers reap new ben­e­fits with Ru­ral Taobao

China Daily European Weekly - - Cover Story - Con­tact the writ­ers at suqiang@chi­ and yan­dongjie@chi­

E-com­merce helps them save money as well as gain ac­cess to prod­ucts once dif­fi­cult to buy

lo­cated near the Tak­la­makan Desert, has lit­tle rain­fall but much sun, which con­trib­utes to the high sugar con­tent of the ap­ples.

“The farm­ers, how­ever, didn’t have ac­cess to more buy­ers. Nor did they have tech­ni­cal sup­port to up­grade the prod­ucts. They don’t speak Man­darin, and some of them still don’t use cell­phones,” Liu says, adding that the vil­lagers used to earn less than 3,000 yuan per house­hold per year, which is be­low the poverty line.

In 2017, Viz­dan signed con­tracts with 115 Aksu ap­ple farmer fam­i­lies, sell­ing their ap­ples on Taobao — which dou­bles the farm­ers’ an­nual in­come — and pro­vid­ing tech­ni­cal sup­port that im­proves the qual­ity of the fruit, Liu says.

Tun­yas Ni­mat, who is 72, be­gan plant­ing ap­ple trees in 2005 and has an ap­ple farm of 0.87 hectares. “My whole fam­ily’s in­come re­lies on the ap­ple trees. I raised the trees, and now they feed me,” Ni­mat says.

Vil­lagers in 29 prov­inces around China sold more than 20 kinds of agri­cul­tural prod­ucts on Ru­ral Taobao for 450 mil­lion yuan on Sin­gles Day on Nov 11 — up from nearly zero three years ago, says Li Tianyu, the Ru­ral Taobao project man­ager.

“Farm­ers usu­ally plant their own crops. They don’t know how to pro­mote their spe­cial prod­ucts or pay at­ten­tion to the qual­ity of the prod­ucts, not to men­tion brand­ing,” Li says.

A team from Ru­ral Taobao went to a rice-pro­duc­ing area in Hei­longjiang province, where farm­ers used to ap­ply pes­ti­cides on a large scale and sell the rice without nice pack­ag­ing.

“Wuchang is known for its loamy soil, abun­dant wa­ter and suit­able weather for rice plant­ing, which con­trib­ute to the rice’s soft and sticky feel and pleas­ant smell. But the lo­cals didn’t no­tice the ad­van­tage and the price used to be 6 yuan per kilo­gram,” says Li. But Wuchang rice is now one of the most pop­u­lar types on Taobao, and the price has reached 30 yuan per kilo­gram, Li adds.

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