Business / Economy

3 villages and a million startups

By Zhu Lixin (China Daily) Updated: 2016-07-19 11:06

3 villages and a million startups

A tourist takes photos of the Sangua community. [Photo/VCG]

In a rural area about 70 kilometers from Hefei, capital of Anhui province, lie the villages of Donggua, Nangua and Xigua. Taken literally, their names mean white gourd, pumpkin and watermelon, respectively.

The villages, which neighbor each other, make up the community of Sangua, or three melons, with a registered population of more than 1,400.

"Most of the villagers have left for cities to make a living in the last two decades, but an increasing number of them are returning to their hometowns," said Zhang Yong'an, head of the Sangua community.

"Instead of growing white gourd, pumpkin and watermelon, as many people may suppose, the villagers have mostly been engaged in e-commerce and tourism since last year," said Zhang, adding that the villages have their own strengths.

With a museum and some traditional handicraft workshops, Donggua is a village where tourists can have a better knowledge of the local fork arts. Xigua offers tourists more than 100 restaurants and hotels in slightly renovated farmers' houses.

"The two villages have become popular destinations for the nearby urban residents who want to spend their weekends and holidays in a more relaxed way. Nangua has been visited by even more people online," said Zhang.

Nangua boasts dozens of e-commerce startups. They sell local agricultural products on some national e-commerce platforms, including,, and WeChat.

Zhang offers an example of how the e-commerce business works in the villages.

The three villages have together 9.3 hectares of peanut fields, with annual output of 35,000 kg. Traditionally, the farmers used to sell the peanuts to crop dealers for 6 yuan ($0.9) to 8 yuan per kg.

Last year, the Sangua community launched a brand of roasted peanuts and made it available on popular online marketplaces.

"We developed the Shanquan Peanuts brand last year by buying the nuts directly from local farmers. We offer them prices 10 to 20 percent higher than that of external dealers," said Chen Pengfei, 33, who leads a team based in the village to develop new agricultural brands and products.

Their peanut products now sell online for nearly 50 yuan for a 300g pack. The products are delivered across China with some major courier firms setting up parcel-collection points in the village.

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