JINAN, Sept. 22 (Xinhua) -- As his computer buzzed with a message alert, Zhang Xiaohui, a farmer from east China's Shandong Province, received new orders just a few minutes after he sat in front of the camera with a full bowl of cooked corn in his hands.
"The corn is just plucked from my farm, natural and yummy," Zhang took a mouthful of corn as he tried to promote his products.
Zhang never imagined he could cause a sensation online by selling farm produce on "Taobao Village Live," a live streaming platform run by Alibaba.
Livestreaming has become a viable source of income as China's live-streaming industry has boomed in recent years. According to a report published by the China Internet Network Information Center, China was home to 397 million users on multiple livestreaming websites by the end of 2018, and they have shown formidable purchasing power.
Zhang has over 2,000 online followers and has received about 20 orders each day only two weeks since he first sold farm produce through livestreaming and sharing his comfortable life in his hometown of Jianglou Township.
"Don't underestimate these farm tools; many urban dwellers have never seen them before," Zhang shouldered a spade and a basket on the way to his cornfield the other day. "The crops along the road can even be a hashtag."
Sold in the traditional way, 0.067 hectares of corn only brought him about 1,000 yuan (141 U.S. dollars), while the same amount sold through livestreaming brings him an income of at least 1,750 yuan.
In addition, low-yielding and less-planted crops in Jianglou have also found a market through Taobao Village Live, according to Zhang.
Jianglou Township is now labeled as "Taobao Town" in that it has built a modern multifunctional e-commerce industrial park integrating business incubation, logistics and online trading.
The industrial park has attracted over 200 enterprises to settle here and inspire a huge number of migrant farmers to return home and get involved in the new field of livestreaming.
Giving up his work in the city, Liu Baokui, a native of Jianglou Township, came back and became an online celebrity selling flowers on Taobao Village Live. "The peak time often comes after dinner when white-collar workers in the city, our main target buyers, just finish work," Liu said. "So I try to create a lively atmosphere to allow them to feel at ease when I livestream."
"Taobao Towns" have rapidly sprung up as "cyber-star economy" has gained ground in China. A report released by Alibaba showed that the number of "Taobao Towns" had reached 1,118 in 2019, rising from 363 last year. Farmer entrepreneurs are remodeling the spatial and social structure of Chinese villages.
The younger generation in China's rural areas also pays heed to the fresh economic model. In Sunzhuang Village in Caoxian County of Shandong, more than 200 native young people have come back to work in a Taobao industry street, and over 1,000 people from other places are also working in the village.
Costume sales in Sunzhuang Village are expected to reach 100 million yuan by the end of 2019.
In 2019, Alibaba initiated the Taobao Village Live project that covered 270 counties across China in only three months, with nearly 50,000 livestreaming broadcasts watched by over 200 million netizens.