Farmers reap new benefits with Rural Taobao
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.