Business / Companies

Suning helps rural farmers earn more

By WANG ZHUOQIONG (China Daily) Updated: 2015-01-08 13:21

Wu Zhuang, a 49-year-old farmer from Jiangsu province, has proved what many previously thought impossible.

He has managed to earn more from working back home than moving to a big city-an option many of his neighbors have been forced to take.

For years Wu says he had been faced with a dilemma: he needed money because he has an ill wife and grandchildren to look after, but he couldn't earn enough by staying put.

But last year he got the break he had been waiting for, when he was offered the chance to start growing mushrooms by a local agricultural experiment center in Mingzuling village of Xuyi county, in Huai'an, Jiangsu province.

As a result, by the end of the year he had managed to earn 20,000 yuan ($3,225) more than his previous annual income.

The center is the brainchild of Suning Commerce Group-the leading home appliance retailer based in Nanjing, Jiangsu's capital-and is operated under a plan to offer farm-related workers the opportunity to produce better-earning crops, while at the same time offering them marketing skills to help sell their produce on the Internet using a charity platform launched by Suning.

The center has offered 50 posts to local villagers just like Wu, paying them around 1,500 yuan per month, according to Zhu Eryue, the Party chief of Mingzuling village.

"The Internet is presenting tremendous opportunities to public charities by simply offering a more efficient way of raising funds," said Zhang Jindong, chairman of Suning, at a launch ceremony for the charity online platform in Beijing.

Suning's charity channel, which seeks donations and crowdfunding, has attracted leading charity organizations from across the country to open stores on the site, where people can donate.

The channel is expected to go live in the first quarter of this year offering financial support, business information, and marketing and sales tips to agricultural ventures and organizations from remote and rural areas that sell their own home-made products.

This year Suning says it will spend 5 million yuan to build five more agricultural production centers similar to the one where Wu works, to help farmers improve their e-commerce capacity, said Duan Yingbi, director of the China Foundation for Poverty Alleviation, one of the charities already operating on the Suning charity channel.

Suning has donated 32.3 million yuan ($5.2 million) over the past four years for a schools building program, managed by the China foundation for Poverty Alleviation.

The cash has helped buid student dormitory buildings at 64 primary schools in some of the country's most remote and poverty-stricken areas.

Qiao Rui, a 10-year old student from Zhitian in Xunyi county, Shaanxi province, used to have to get up at 5 am to walk five kilometers to school every morning, which would take an hour.

Now, however, a new dormitory building, funded by Suning, is home to 400 students like Qiao.

"I don't need to get up so early, and have more time to work on my homework at night," said Qiao.

By the end of 2014, Suning had donated more than 900 million yuan to charities.

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