E-commerce extends lifeline to Shaanxi pear farmers
China's booming e-commerce industry has brought tremendous convenience to online shoppers. And in many cases, these Internet platforms have also extended financial lifelines to farmers and producers, especially those living in remote rural areas.
Fruit production is a major industry for Qianxian County in Shaanxi Province. However, securing sales channels for them has not always been easy.
Last year, the Zheng family harvested 7,500 kilograms of pears. Zheng Zhilong, the patriarch of the family, is in his 70's. Due to poor health, he wasn't able to properly take care of the harvest. Eager to unload the pears, he once sold 160 kilograms of them for a mere 10 yuan, or less than two US dollars. Fortunately, word got out fast and caught the attention of some e-commerce operators.
74-year-old pear farmer Zheng Zhilong shows off a pear at his home in Shaanxi Province. [Photo: China Plus]
Chen Xiaofeng is Zheng Zhilong's daughter-in-law. She says online shopping platforms have brought a miracle to her family.
"It had been difficult to sell our pears this season. The local selling price is also low, about one yuan per kilogram. Our family harvested 7,500 kilograms. Then, an e-commerce business came. They bought all of our pears at two yuan per kilogram and paid for all transportation and packaging costs. We didn't have to spend an extra penny."
The pears are said to have been quickly sold out on a platform provided by Pinduoduo, a Chinese e-commerce operator that offers group-purchasing deals. Liu Yu is the vendor that helped to sell the pears on Pinduoduo.
"When we first visited the Zheng family, things weren't looking good. The pears were selling at one yuan per kilogram. We doubled that price and bought all of the family's harvest and then sold them all. We have entered a deal with the family to help them sell all their other produce. "
Pears grown by the Zheng family are packed and ready to be shipped to buyers. [Photo: China Plus]
The Zhengs are just one family among the many local farmers in need of help. During the last harvest season, the town where the family lives produced 15,000 tons of pears; about a third of that amount still needs to find buyers. Wang Chao, the head of the township, says he is hoping e-commerce operators can help solve that problem.
"We still have about 5,000 tons of pears left, all stored underground to keep them fresh. If we don't have the help of e-commerce companies, they would all go bad after the Spring Festival. If we don't get good prices then, it would constitute a huge loss for our farmers. "
Pinduoduo has said it will continue to work with farmers and provide sales channels, all the while offering consumers high-quality produce. Local authorities also say they have established co-ops to further strengthen their working relationship with e-commerce platforms and ensure income for farmers.
Meanwhile, business analysts say e-commerce providers could eventually go beyond simply securing buyers. Sales data collected over time can become useful feedback to allow farmers to better understand the market demand for their products. That in turn can help them effectively allocate their production resources and more accurately respond to market needs.