JINAN, March 26 (Xinhua) -- As a flurry of "Thumbs-up" and "Likes" popped up on her mobile phone, 24-year-old fruit farmer Han Mei attracted over 5,000 viewers on her live-stream on a recent afternoon.
Unlike "cyber-stars" doing musical performances or gaming live streams, Han attracted her 90,000 followers by selling fruit, such as peaches and persimmons, and sharing her country life in her hometown of Difang town, east China's Shandong Province.
Over the past nine months, the turnover of her online store has exceeded 1.1 million yuan (163,800 U.S. dollars) with the highest single day turnover reaching 50,000 yuan.
Difang town in Yimeng Mountain area, which used to be a major region of poverty, is only one of many areas benefiting from e-commerce and live-streaming.
On Taobao, a large online shopping website run by Alibaba, over 100,000 farmers are doing the same thing as Han, with a total of more than 60,000 live-streaming broadcasts every month.
"Online selling is not only a change in sales method, but also shows the improving quality of Chinese agricultural products and an upgrading agricultural industry," said Zhang Qingjin, director of the Institute of Agricultural Development of the Shandong Academy of Social Sciences.
The Chinese government has been encouraging the use of e-commerce to alleviate poverty in recent years.
The country has pledged to deepen agricultural supply-side structural reform and win the tough battle against poverty, according to the "No. 1 central document" released by central authorities in February.
In recent years, Difang town has committed to developing new varieties of fruits, such as peaches and plums, and to moving up the value chain. It is now known as China's "town of canned fruit."
"Almost every household has a member working in the canned fruit industry," said Zhang Guanlin, deputy head of Difang town. With 120 companies in the industry, the town produces 750,000 tonnes of canned fruit every year, with an annual turnover of 7 billion yuan.
The likes of Taobao have advanced government efforts by introducing special poverty alleviation programs to train farmer live-streamers and help the countryside sellers promote their products.
Online sales of China's agricultural products have enjoyed rapid growth.
China's Ministry of Agriculture and Rural Affairs says the country's e-commerce sales of agricultural products neared 300 billion yuan in 2017, creating 28 million jobs. By 2020, e-commerce sales are expected to reach 800 billion yuan.
"Farmer Internet-celebrities have set a good example for farmers to mobilize themselves in fighting poverty," said Zhang Qingjin. "They also help advance the country's rural revitalization by earning their hometowns a reputation and creating a 'cyber-star economy'."