China will push forward the use of e-commerce platforms to more than 60,000 impoverished villages in the next five years to aid its relief effort, a senior official said on Dec 24 at a conference in Beijing on national poverty alleviation.
Liu Yongfu, head of the State Council Leading Group Office of Poverty Alleviation and Development, said the country will encourage residents in poor rural areas to open stores on major e-commerce platforms to distribute their agricultural produce.
The authority will select 1,500 poverty-stricken villages in 2015 for a e-commerce pilot project, Liu said.
The e-commerce program is part of the authority’s effort to help those with the most pressing needs and to make the most efficient use of poverty reduction funds.
“We should further increase the intensity of our relief effort, but we should also make sure the relief effort will go to those who need it most,” he said at the conference.
The authority will roll out favorable measures to the poor villages to develop e-commerce networks and platforms that will enable villages and households to sell their products directly to the market. Training sessions for farmers in the use of the platforms will also be organized, he said.
The authority will sign more agreements with e-commerce platforms to encourage more of them to join the poverty relief effort in the rural areas.
Several leading e-commerce companies in China have already announced plans to boost their infrastructure and facilities in rural areas to further explore the untapped market.
E-commerce giant Alibaba announced plans in October to invest 10 billion yuan ($1.6 billion) within three to five years to build thousands of facilities in rural China that include 1,000 “county operational centers” and 100,000 “village service stations”. The move will extend the company’s network to one-third of China’s counties and one-sixth of its rural areas.
JD.com has initiated its first pilot program for rural e-commerce in Renshou, Sichuan province. The company has posted its ads on more than 8,000 walls in more than 100 townships across the country since the fourth quarter of last year.
China has already identified 128,000 impoverished villages and 88.6 million people living in poverty thanks to a national database project that started this year.
Liu told the conference that the country will meet its target of lifting more than 10 million people out of poverty this year.
In 2015, the country will also push forward the use of solar panels in rural areas to generate electricity, and the planting of paper mulberry as a cash crop in impoverished areas as part of the new programs.