Business / Companies

Alibaba JV plants seeds of change in food habits

By Shi Jing in Shanghai (China Daily) Updated: 2014-05-13 07:19

A joint project run by local farm cooperatives in East China's Anhui province and the country's e-commerce giant Alibaba Group Holding Ltd is changing the way consumers get fruit and vegetables.

Jutudi, as the project is called, was launched in mid-March by Juhuasuan, a group-buying site under Alibaba, and some local farm cooperatives in Jixi county. The project is offering 1,000 mu (666,660 square meters) of land.

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Using Jutudi, farmers can transfer land use rights to Alibaba. The land is then managed by the farm cooperative. Consumers can subscribe for an area of land with specific requirements as to the crops to be grown on it. The farm cooperative then hires professional farmers to cultivate and harvest the crops. The produce is delivered to online subscribers every two weeks.

The service is categorized by area. Consumers can lease 66.6 sq m of land for 580 yuan ($92) a year. They can also choose to pay 2,400 yuan for 333 sq m of land or 4,800 yuan for 666 sq m.

The crops include vegetables, fruit and grain, and it's all insured.

Subscribers can also get fresh eggs and free travel services at designated tourist attractions in Jixi.

The service became popular as soon as it was launched on March 13. More than 3,500 consumers subscribed within the first three days.

A farmer can receive 700 to 800 yuan annually for transferring the right to use the land. Farmers are also paid for taking care of the land and the crops grown on it, explained Zhang Xinguang, business director of Zhejiang Xinghe E-commerce Co Ltd, an enterprise directly under Zhejiang Supply and Marketing Cooperative, which was one of the initial backers of Jutudi.

"Farmers might worry, as this is the first time for such a project to be launched. We suggest they set up a farm cooperative in their hometown for Jutudi. Under the project, land lease payments will be given to farmers once a year. They will also be paid monthly if they grow crops," he said.

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