China is committed to expanding e-commerce in rural areas to promote agricultural products and increase farmers’ incomes, the Ministry of Agriculture and Rural Affairs said.
The ministry will push the establishment of a temperature-controlled supply chain to improve logistics between rural and urban areas, Han Jun, vice-minister of the ministry, said at a news conference organized by the State Council Information Office on March 1.
New policies will be adopted to encourage the presence of e-commerce companies in rural areas, while efforts will be made to help farmers better process agricultural products, he said.
“E-commerce has created many business opportunities in rural areas,” he said, adding that even the most remote and poor villages are connected with e-commerce.
Data from the Ministry of Commerce showed that online retail sales in rural China reached 1.37 trillion yuan ($204 billion) last year, up 30.4 percent year-on-year, providing jobs for 28 million farmers.
Farmers can now sell chicken and organic vegetables to customers in the city directly, thanks to platforms such as WeChat, he said.
The vice-minister also stressed that the government will take measures to support the development of “small rural households”, or those with arable land of less than 0.67 hectares. According to the third national agricultural census released by the National Bureau of Statistics in 2017, there are 210 million rural households in this category, accounting for about 90 percent of rural households.
A recent guideline from the central authority urged governments at all levels to assist the development of small rural households.
Wu Hongyao, a senior official with the Office of the Central Rural Work Leading Group, said at the conference that these small rural households need support both in market information and farming technology.
“Small rural households should be gradually directed onto the track of modern agriculture. We aim to provide services that households can’t easily handle, such as crop pest control, animal disease prevention and control, utilization technology for agricultural waste and sales channel promotion.
“From the field to the food table, there are still a lot of support policies about services to be developed in rural areas and that will be the major point of our work for the next step,” he said.