Chinese farmers unleash E-commerce potential

Global Business

Farmers in central China’s Henan province have found that connecting to the internet is boosting sales, profits and production.

The stereotypical notion of China’s countryside in one filled with quaint villages and farmers tending terraced plots on the side of a mountain. Nowadays, however, a computer, an internet connection and a mobile phone have become as indispensable to farmers as a tractor.

Chinese farmers unleash E-commerce potential

Chinese farmers unleash E-commerce potential

Farmers in central China's Henan province have found that connecting to the internet is boosting sales, profits and production. The stereotypical notion of China's countryside in one filled with quaint villages and farmers tending terraced plots on the side of a mountain. Nowadays, however, a computer, an internet connection and a mobile phone have become as indispensable to farmers as a tractor.

Wang Baofeng is one of China’s new breed of rural entrepreneur. He was a simple farmer in Changge county, when he rented his neighbors land and expanded his farm. The 43-year-old has since hired more than 40 farmhands and last September he took his business online.

“Our business model used to be focused on selling directly to local supermarkets and restaurants. It was hard to expand our customer base, so we started our online business about seven months ago. Online sales have far exceeded our expectations. We’ve very happy,” said Baofeng.

Wang receives about 20 orders a day on his farm’s website. During harvest he’s also received orders worth $500 dollars a day from his link on Taobao, China’s largest retail platform.

Wang is not the only farmer to take advantage of the Internet. Some 125 million rural residents in China are now connected to the web.

And Henan province, one of China’s most rural, most densely populated and least developed, is using the internet to give local farmers a hand-up in the world of e-commerce.

“We’ve been developing e-commerce for rural farmers for 10 years. It has boosted the province’s rural economy by at least 1.6 billion yuan a year. The next step is to improve farmers’ websites and guarantee the quality of their produce,” said Wu Yuanqi, director of E-commerce for the Hunan Provincial Administration of Commerce

The internet is not only helping put cash in farmer’s pockets, but also helping them boost output. Wang and his staff take online courses sponsored by China Unicom, learning new farming techniques so they can grow fresher, greener crops that are in high demand.

As an e-commerce pioneer, Farmer Wang’s success story is proving the importance to connect all rural areas to the internet. Many believe there’s an untapped potential that will help improve the economic efficiency in many of the country’s underdeveloped rural areas.