Food scandals have caused a considerable amount of uproar in Chinese markets in the recent past, especially in the country’s larger cities. This has given rise to a new culture that promotes the consumption of naturally produced food that is grown organically without being loaded with fertilizers and pesticides.
This emerging market has presented new opportunities to rural farmers that are not just willing to adopt organic farming techniques, but are learning the ropes of ecommerce to reach out to urban customers via the internet. A case in point would be farmers such as 83-year-old Li Chengcai and his 76-year-old wife Cheng Youfang—farmers that are engage in growing white radishes around the Yellow Mountain range. By using the ecommerce route, the couple has secured hundreds of orders from urban customers that are willing to shell out a little extra to purchase produce that has been grown safely and is more flavorful.
It was a few years ago that a few village officials across China took the initiative to help farmers set up accounts on ecommerce websites. In the case of this farmer couples, their village officer helped them create an account on the microblogging website Sina Weibo. The farmer coupler then went on to post updates about their fresh farm produce that was grown using traditional techniques. With an encouraging response, they then went ahead to launch an online store via the Taobao.com platform (which is a part of the Alibaba Group). This further cemented the ties between rural farmers and urban buyers.
Online grocery stores such as these have thousands of followers online, and orders from urban buyers are fulfilled by a twenty-seven farm strong group that sells a variety of farm produce ranging from sweet corn to dried radishes to dried bamboo shoots and more.
This could be a part of a larger emerging trend as the Chinese ecommerce leader Alibaba.com reported that 25% of all registered stores on Taobao.com had rural locations (which amounts to 2 million).