Business / Technology

E-commerce boosts earnings for farmers

(Xinhua) Updated: 2015-11-09 08:04

Huo Liang earns about 1,000 yuan ($158) a month running an online shop to sell millet, a humble but nutritious food popular among Chinese customers.

His earnings are remarkable for a financially disadvantaged family in Tongyu county, in Northeast China's Jilin province.

In the county, nearly a third of agricultural produce, including millet, is sold online.

Still, Sun Hongjun, secretary of the county Party committee, said that to further alleviate poverty, the government needs to improve Internet infrastructure and logistics in rural regions.

This means providing more information services to help farmers access the Web.

Tongyu is part of an e-commerce development plan rolled out by the Ministry of Finance and the Ministry of Commerce to more than 200 counties across the country.

The State Council unveiled the scheme last month to upgrade Internet infrastructure and the development of the logistics industry in rural areas. More central government funds as well as investment from local governments and social organizations will be allocated for the project.

The government plans to invest up to 140 billion yuan by 2020 to provide at least 50,000 villages with Internet access.

By then, about 98 percent of the country's rural areas will be hooked up to the Internet.

It coincides with another of China's 2020 target to help about 70 million rural residents climb out of poverty.

By the end of last year, China still had 70.17 million people in the countryside living below the poverty line of 2,300 yuan in annual income.

"Many provincial governments, such as Shandong and Gansu, have announced policies to help e-commerce development," Qu Tianjun, an official with the State Council Leading Group Office of Poverty Alleviation and Development, said.

Farming in China has been booming during the past three decades. The summer grain output reached a record 141.07 million tons this year after 11 consecutive years of growth.

Although harvests were good, inefficient sales channels, a shrinking labor population and lack of access to loans have been squeezing farmers' earnings and dragging down the rural economy.

In 2014, the per capita disposable income of rural residents increased 9.2 percent annually to 10,489 yuan, less than half that of the urban workforce.

The Internet, especially mobile networks, has provided agriculture with a new vision. E-commerce enables farmers to sell goods quickly, shop around for materials and obtain small loans.

By the end of June, China had 668 million Internet users, 48.8 percent of the population. Last year, e-commerce transaction volume surged 59.4 percent to 16.39 trillion yuan, nearing the country's goal of 18 trillion yuan by 2015.

In July, the State Council unveiled an "Internet Plus" action plan to integrate the online sector with traditional businesses to make them smarter and more efficient.

Along with manufacturing, agriculture was on the top of the list.


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