China Focus: Farmers reap gains in livestream boom

Source: Xinhua| 2020-05-06 19:03:32|Editor: huaxia

HEFEI, May 6 (Xinhua) -- Surrounded by various agricultural products, Chen Laifeng, a post-90s farmer livestreamer, was touting specialty tea to viewers on TikTok, known locally in China as Douyin.

"Huoshan Huangya, a famous yellow tea, features a pale yellow brew and fresh aroma. Please leave a message and place an order if you are interested," said Chen, introducing the quality and flavor of the tea.

Chen is the founder of a local agricultural cooperative involving over 150 farmers in Huoshan County, east China's Anhui Province. Instead of selling agricultural products to local vendors and seeing poor sales, Chen shifted her focus to livestreaming e-commerce this year.

On Douyin, Chen posted short videos recording her pastoral life and launched livestreaming sessions selling local produce, which has attracted more than 40,000 followers.

"Each of my livestreaming sessions can draw hundreds of viewers. I can sell over 1,000 bags of rice in a single night," said Chen. "In April, my sales volume via livestreaming reached about 600,000 yuan (about 84,600 U.S. dollars)."

"Through livestreaming, farmers can directly connect with consumers and integrate production and marketing in an efficient manner," said Chen.

To become a qualified livestreamer, Chen never stopped learning. She spent over 2,000 yuan to participate in a training session organized by a celebrity on Douyin. She also employed a professional team to help her make short videos and prepare livestreaming sessions.

Like Chen, many farmers in China are jumping on the livestreaming bandwagon to increase the sales channels for their agricultural products.

Data showed that as of March, more than 60,000 farmers have settled on Taobao Live, the livestreaming unit of China's e-commerce giant Alibaba.

"It's an innovation to promote farm products sales via livestreaming and short videos," said Chen Ping, an official with the Ministry of Agriculture and Rural Affairs of China. "Especially during the COVID-19 epidemic, livestreaming sessions have emerged as a new approach to expand the sales channels of agricultural products."

In late March, Taobao launched a project to cultivate 200,000 farmer livestreamers in cooperation with local agricultural and commercial bureaux. The sales volume of agricultural products is estimated to reach about 15 billion yuan via livestreaming this year.

Zhang Wenwen, a farmer from the city of Xuancheng in Anhui Province, embarked on livestreaming in 2017 after she opened an online shop on Taobao selling local produce such as bamboo shoots in 2013.

"I broadcast the whole process of harvesting bamboo shoots from the mountain so that customers can have a deeper understanding of my products," said Zhang. She sold nearly 80,000 yuan worth of farm products through more than 20 livestreaming sessions in April.

"Although not every livestreaming session generates large sales, it helps promote my Taobao shop and lets more people know the village life of Chinese farmers," said Zhang.

The popularity of livestreaming in rural areas lies in the rapid development of digital technologies and the rising internet penetration rate in Chinese villages.

According to a report released by the China Internet Network Information Center, as of March, the number of rural netizens hit 255 million, an increase of over 33 million from the year of 2018, accounting for 28.2 percent of the total netizens in China.

Meanwhile, according to a guideline published by the Ministry of Agriculture and Rural Affairs of China, the internet penetration rate in rural areas will surge from 38.4 percent in 2018 to 70 percent by 2025.

"With the rapid development of digital technologies in villages, more farmers will hop on the livestreaming bandwagon, promoting the development of modern agriculture in China," said Hong Tao, a professor from Beijing Technology and Business University. Enditem