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E-commerce fights against poverty

By Yang Jun and Hao Nan ( China Daily )

Updated: 2017-03-07

Yanhe govt focuses on technology to drive county-wide development, Yang Jun and Hao Nan report.

The Yanhe government expects to remove the county in Guizhou province from the list of national-level poverty-stricken areas by developing its e-commerce industry environment.

According to historical records, Yanhe served as an important commercial center during the Tang Dynasty (618-907), thronging with merchants in the middle and lower reaches of Wujiang River, the longest tributary on the southern bank of Yangtze River's upper reach.

However, the tide changed with the rise of land transportation and a newly established hydraulic power station that cut-off the Wujiang waterway. The county lost its advantage in water transportation and gradually fell behind in terms of economic development.

Many of its characteristic farm products, such as plums, goat meat, peanuts and tea, are hardly known to the outside world, partly because of the lack of channels by which to export them.

But, the region is now experiencing a turnaround.

E-commerce fights against poverty

Ran Azhou, a local pioneer engaged in e-commerce, said the emerging e-commerce industry has changed local people's traditional marketing models and has brought Yanhe's rural areas into closer contact with the world outside.

Ran demonstrated his commerce talents when he studied at Guizhou Normal University. He opened a snack shop in his dormitory building and bought his first car in his senior year.

When he was about to graduate in 2014, Ran heard that the Yanhe county government had decided to promote characteristically local products. He said he knew that a great opportunity was coming.

Ran returned to Yanhe after graduating and founded an e-commerce company in November 2014 to sell local specialties.

"Our best-selling products include honey, pomeloes and dried beef. The company's sales volume reached 1.2 million yuan ($174,575) in the first year," he said.

In 2015, Yanhe had a good harvest of pomeloes, with a total output of more than 50,000 kilograms. In only two weeks, Ran's company sold all of the pomeloes, helping local farmers to double their incomes.

"Although there are many challenges in developing electronic businesses in Yanhe, I felt a great sense of accomplishment when I saw local farmers' agricultural products sell out through my company. These products used to be unsellable due to the lack of market channels and information," the 25-year-old said.

By the end of 2016, Yanhe had more than 30 e-commerce companies providing online retail services. Last year, the industry's total trade volume in the county exceeded 300 million yuan. Of this, more than 2.9 million yuan was created on Singles Day, an online shopping day on Nov 11 launched by Tmall - Alibaba Group's business-to-consumer platform.

"The internet and e-commerce environment help to make returning home an attractive idea," said Wu Zhaohui, deputy director of the e-commerce development office in Guizhou's Tongren city.

Related sectors, such as logistics, packaging and marketing planning, could also create many job opportunities, Wu said.

In 2015, nearly 810,000 young people came back to Guizhou to find jobs and start their own businesses, a year-on-year increase of 30.86 percent.

The Guizhou provincial government has launched a spring campaign to intensify the poverty-alleviation effort.

Guizhou provincial Party chief Chen Min'er said the province would continue to deepen the implementation of President Xi Jinping's guiding strategy with regard to efficient poverty alleviation, in a bid to make further steady headway in promoting the province's anti-poverty projects.

E-commerce, one of the aspects of the anti-poverty projects, is visibly taking off across the province.

Last year's official statistics show that e-commerce trade volume in Guizhou reached 129.18 billion yuan from January to November, a year-on-year increase of 31.14 percent. Online retail transactions contributed 56.83 billion yuan, a 33.56 percent year-on-year increase.

Currently, the province has more than 50,000 e-commerce companies and online stores, 60 county-level e-commerce service centers and 6,950 service stations in rural areas. It also signed strategic cooperation agreements with several e-business giants, including Alibaba, online retailer JD and Suning Commerce Group.

"The number of Guizhou's e-commerce service stations will reach 10,000 at the end of this year, and the province's online retail turnover is supposed to exceed 80 billion yuan at the same time. The industry's trade volume is expected to exceed 200 billion yuan in 2017 and 360 billion yuan in 2020, the last year for the 13th Five-Year Plan (2016-20)," said Shen Xinguo, deputy head of the province's Commerce Department.

However, the future development of Guizhou's electronic business will not be plain sailing.

"The biggest problem is the lack of talented people in the industry. Transportation infrastructure in rural areas also needs improvement to lower logistics costs," Shen said.

Contact the writers at yangjun@chinadaily.com.cn and haonan@chinadaily.com.cn

 E-commerce fights against poverty

Charming idyllic view in rural areas in Southwest China's Guizhou province.

 E-commerce fights against poverty

Fanjing Mountain, a national nature reserve in Tongren, Guizhou province, is a popular travel destination.

 E-commerce fights against poverty

An improved transport network, including high-speed railways, has made Guizhou an easier place to visit.

 E-commerce fights against poverty

Villagers celebrate the local plum festival in Nanzhuang village, Yanhe, Guizhou province. Photos Provided To China Daily

 E-commerce fights against poverty

Ran Azhou (right), a pioneer engaged in e-commerce in Yanhe, helps to sell local farmers' agricultural products through his e-commerce company.

(China Daily 03/07/2017 page24)

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