New Chinese farmers run retail business via livestreaming
By Zhang Shixuan

China has released a plan to advance agricultural and rural modernization during the 14th Five-Year Plan period (2021-2025). The plan said by 2035, China will make decisive progress in rural vitalization, and the modernization of agriculture and rural areas will be basically achieved.

As there is a big demand for the vegetables available for sale on China's livestreaming e-commerce sites, six young farmers in Shanghai's Pudong New Area are figuring out how to meet that demand, in a very modern way. All of them were born after 1980, and have come back to the village to become farmers after leaving their jobs in the city, or even abroad. The government calls them new farming professionals.

In just two hours, some 400 orders would come in. Farmers with advanced planting resources, like Ying Xiong, can harvest 800,000 kilograms of oranges a year, and the promising sales performance promises a great future. 

"If I started a sales team on my own, it could cost me three million yuan ($473,400). But now, with six of us sharing one, it's affordable. We now have livestreaming everyday, and more people helping with new retail operations," said Ying. 

All these new ideas are fruits of their learning at the Shanghai Agricultural Broadcasting School. 

In the past, I was just a planter, but now I'm a manager, which means I also have to lead others for sales and branding. In 2020 and 2021, I went to Fudan University and Zhejiang University to learn about laws, marketing and branding. Now with six of us combined together, the orders are surging and we are now working on back-stage maintenance and client service," said Huang Shengfei, a farmer who studied in the school.

Shanghai Agricultural Broadcasting School started to offer farming education a decade ago. But it was since five years ago that the school began to offer new management skill training for younger farm owners. Just last year, the school launched a new training plan for 100 outstanding young farmers.

"Farmers often lack modern concepts and corporate management skills. So we take advantage of the rich resources in colleges and offer theoretical courses. And we've also selected some companies for them to have practical training. Operational management, including cost management, internal management and talent hiring should be based on the modern companies' rules," said Fei Qiang, Principal of Shanghai Agricultural Broadcasting Television School. 

As of the end of 2020, the number of China's new farming professionals had topped more than 20 million. They're younger and more modern and quick to adopt a digital lifestyle, using mobile payments and online video entertainment. And that has created a gigantic 100 billion yuan market for farmer's professional education. Not just traditional training schools, some online applications and video streaming sites are already offering farming education and enjoying the fruits of their efforts.

Longping High-Tech Agriculture, a China-based company engaged in the production, processing, packaging and breeding of high-tech crops, is now operating an app, backed by China's Ministry of Agriculture and Rural Affairs, specifically offering services like online education, agricultural information and e-commerce for farmers. 

Douyin, the Chinese-version TikTok, has also launched a new topic targeting China's new farming professionals in August 2020. The topic "New Farming Professionals 2021" was played more than 100 billion times, and another Chinese video app Kuaishou launched a similar service last January.

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