E-commerce platforms find solution for farmers with surplus stock

By Yin Yeping Source:Global Times Published: 2020/2/11 18:58:48

Despite the epidemic, farmers may soon have fewer concerns about their surplus production as the country's e-commerce platforms are now reaching out to them to help dispatch their goods from farm to the dining table.

More than 500 tons of unmarketable fruits and vegetables were sold through Alibaba's Tmall from Saturday to Monday, according to a statement Alibaba sent to the Global Times on Tuesday.

Alibaba released its "Love to Help Farmers" plan, which aims to utilize the power of the digital economy, build an emergency supply chain for unmarketable agricultural products in core regions of China, ensure a sufficient quantity of vegetables in urban areas and keep prices stable, Alibaba said.

The novel coronavirus outbreak has led to economic layoffs which have hit the agricultural industry nationwide. Market closures, road blockades and out-of-business restaurants have all impacted farmers upstream. Among many problems, delivery is the main challenge.

Amid the epidemic, it is estimated that Hainan Province alone has a surplus supply of more than 200,000 tons of fruits and vegetables, according to an industry report.

Chen Yuyu, a local mango planter in Sanya, South China's Hainan Province, told the Global Times that mangos can only stay fresh for a short time, but they are having difficulty finding anyone to transport them.  

"There is so much surplus stock now. We are selling our mangos at very low prices. Half a kilogram is 1-2 yuan (14-28 cents), which is just enough to cover the basic costs," he said. "If the epidemic continues, our losses will be 600,000 yuan, meaning nothing for this year and no money to invest in farming next year."

Currently, Chen is counting on online platforms to sell his stock, which would mean he breaks even but he is not expecting to make a profit.

A Hami melon planter surnamed Wu in Guangdong Province also told the Global Times that he has been having difficulties selling his products. "A few days ago, melons could not be sold because of the delivery problem, and now we can sell a few more but still barely enough to cover the costs," he said.

In order to reach out to these farmers, convenient online services are being introduced on Taobao.com, enabling users to search for value-for-money agricultural goods by typing in the key words "Chi Huo Zhu Nong," meaning "foodies support farmers," on the Taobao app.

Wang Yimao, a strawberry planter in Linyi, Shandong Province, told the Global Times that her strawberries were stocked in the warehouse as she was not able able to deliver outside her village, but that the situation is improving. "Linyi is one of the largest strawberry plantation bases in China and our products are supplied to the whole country and beyond," she said. 

"The local market's demand is limited and we need to deliver to other regions, but the delivery services are not there." Wang said she is now selling her strawberries online to ease her situation.

Taobao also held a live broadcast on its platform promoting fruits and vegetables that are in stock, helping farmers make up their costs amid the outbreak, according to Alibaba.

Besides Alibaba, other e-commerce platforms such as JD.com and Pinduoduo are also looking for solutions for unsaleable agricultural products. JD.com launched a "green channel for national fresh products" on Monday, opening up and tilting resources to solve the problem of unsaleable fresh agricultural products.

E-commerce platforms have launched efficient measures to boost market consumption, Ma Wenfeng, a senior analyst at Beijing Orient Agribusiness Consultancy, told the Global Times on Tuesday.

"These farmers normally sell their goods at large open markets and to supermarkets. Now, through e-commerce, they are directly delivering them into consumers' hands," Ma said.


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