Villagers building a road in Nanjiushuicun, Hebei province. Economist Liu Shuwei helped to pool money through a micro blog to finance the project, which will make it much easier for the villagers to transport and sell local produce. [Photo / Provided to China Daily]
BEIJING - When Liu Shuwei wrote a post on her micro blog to help a remote village sell walnuts and raise money to build a road before they're harvested in October, she didn't expect all the produce to be snapped up within one month.
Liu, an economics professor and researcher at the Central University of Finance and Economics in Beijing, one of China's most renowned financial institutions, opened her micro blog account on t.163.com, a major Chinese micro-blogging website, in March. Initially, she usually posted news about her research and work.
However, on May 2 she posted for the first time that she wanted to help the people of Nanjiushuicun - a village in Hebei province about 500 kilometers from Beijing - to sell walnuts and raise funds to build a road in the mountain region.
Liu had conducted research in the village and had come to know the residents and their problems.
"A company had previously donated 300,000 yuan ($46,370) to the village to build the road, but the money was not enough," said Liu. "So, I came up with the idea of selling walnuts through micro blog."
Liu was quickly inundated with hundreds of replies from people who not only wanted to help the village, but also buy produce fresh from the farmers.
"The micro blog is useful and interesting. People online are very creative and helpful," she said.
Liu told China Daily that she received many suggestions from comments on her micro blog, boosting her confidence that the project could be a success.
Liu also gave a digital camera to 33-year-old Li Hejun, a Nanjiushuicun resident, and taught him how to use it, upload the photographs and display the results on the village micro blog, which went online just two days after Liu returned to Beijing on May 7.
Liu suggested that Li should write about the progress of the road and the growth of the walnut trees, so that potential customers could see the changes in the produce they'd ordered and monitor the construction of the road they'd helped to finance.
Liu said Li has never been to college, but he is smart, like a great many young villagers in China. "They just need a stage to display their talents," Liu said. "And the Internet provides just such a stage."
Nanjiushuicun began to receive orders for its walnuts from buyers nationwide soon after its micro blog went online. The price was 60 yuan for each kilogram, with orders beginning at 5 kilograms.
Liu said most of the 15,000 kilograms of walnuts had been ordered by June 9, just one month after they went on sale.
However, at present the advance payments are still being held at the bank. Li told China Daily that the 200 villagers used their own money to cover the cost of the road construction, as insurance against the walnuts not being delivered on schedule because of inclement weather, traffic delays or other unforeseen circumstances.
"We didn't use the money because we needed to act responsibly," Li said. "We will only use the money after the customers get our walnuts."
In days gone by, it took two and a half hours for six villagers to transport 250 kilograms of walnuts 3 kilometers from the farms to the village by truck.
However, when the new road is completed, the journey will take only 20 minutes to cover the same distance, Liu said.