Internet connects farmer with customers across the country

HANGZHOU, Dec. 9 (Xinhua) — Just one year ago, Zhang Jiacheng was an ordinary fruit farmer in the mountainous Longhuai Village in northwest China’s Gansu Province. Each autumn, he would wait for buyers to visit his village and sell the apples to them to earn a year’s living expenses.

Everything changed with the help of the internet. Zhang, 59, is now an internet personality and sells his apples online.

During this year’s National Day holiday, the county of Lixian, which administers his home village, reaped a bumper harvest of apples. Zhang, together with his son and daughter, sold his apples by livestreaming on e-commerce platform Taobao.

Zhang said that through the holiday, he sold about one-tenth of the apples from his orchard.

“Every day from about 5 a.m. to midnight, my daughter, my son and my daughter-in-law took turns livestreaming and loading apples to be sold. We sold more than 2,500 kg of apples in seven days.”

The internet has played a remarkable role in China’s poverty alleviation campaign, particularly amid the COVID-19 pandemic, with internet access extended to more rural areas, according to a report released last month.

The China Internet Development Report 2020 shows that the regional digital divide in China further narrowed over the past year, with the internet penetration rate reaching 76.4 percent in urban areas and 52.3 percent in rural areas by June 2020.

The report also shows that China has reached its goal of internet coverage in impoverished areas ahead of schedule, with 98 percent of poor villages having already gained internet access.

Online retail sales in rural areas surged to 1.7 trillion yuan (about 260 billion U.S. dollars) in 2019, up from 180 billion yuan in 2014.

Zhang is thankful that Yin Yipan, a poverty relief specialist from e-commerce powerhouse Alibaba, came to his hometown in June 2019. Under the guidance of Yin, Zhang attended a livestreaming training class.

Hardworking Zhang quickly grasped the livestreaming techniques and became the oldest farming livestreamer in Lixian County, selling apples to people across the country.

Amid the COVID-19 epidemic, Zhang asked his migrant worker daughter to return home so that they could learn e-commerce together. During the National Day holiday, Zhang’s online followers doubled thanks to his daughter’s participation.

These days, his daughter and daughter-in-law have both registered for Taobao livestreaming and have become online personalities. The family also helps other fruit farmers in the village sell apples through e-commerce, allowing more people to increase their incomes.

With the internet extending to more rural areas, it has played a significant role in China’s poverty relief efforts.

E-commerce platforms have actively engaged in the poverty alleviation campaign by helping to promote agricultural products through livestreaming, through which lots of farmers have become online celebrities, according to Xia Xueping, head of the Chinese Academy of Cyberspace Studies.

By selling his apples via livestreaming, Zhang’s life has significantly changed in the past year. He has bought three more vehicles for his family: a three-wheeled cart, an electric bicycle and a car. Just two years ago, he only owned a wheelbarrow.

“In the past, my family’s income was quite low, but now it’s more than 100,000 yuan a year. My goal is to earn 1 million yuan in 10 years with the help of e-commerce,” said Zhang.

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