Less-developed areas and rural regions in China should take advantage of the rapid development of the e-commerce industry as an opportunity to promote poverty reduction.
The State Council, China’s cabinet, has proposed the development of characteristic industries as one of the methods to promote poverty reduction. The rapid development of the e-commerce industry in recent years, thanks to the fast development of the country’s Internet technology, is considered one such industry.
The government has also encouraged rural regions to explore ways to connect e-commerce with rural characteristic industries. Promoting e-ecommerce in rural regions will help to increase annual incomes there and decrease poverty.
Many poverty-stricken areas in rural regions have industries that can form a strong basis for these regions to develop e-commerce and get out of poverty. The development model of industries plus e-commerce in rural poorer regions also provides a powerful engine for regional industrial updating.
The use of the Internet of Things, big data and mobile Internet in some cities and areas has accumulated precious practical experience that could be learned by poorer rural regions.
In recent years, poverty-stricken areas have concentrated their efforts on the development of special industries. For example, one village focused on producing only one special local product and sold it online.
According to data from the agricultural sector, almost all poorer Chinese counties and villages that have practiced e-commerce have used it as a major road out of poverty.
For example, Suqian, a poor county in East China’s Jiangsu province, has proposed the slogan “to guide more peasants on the road of developing ‘Internet plus’ plan”, with the hope of increasing local jobs and income. The local government has formulated policies and plans to develop rural e-commerce. Each village is encouraged to develop and cultivate one special rural product and open an online shop.
A survey conducted by the agricultural sector in 446 poverty-stricken counties found that by the end of 2016, 64 percent of impoverished villages had used e-commerce. The transaction value of farm products through e-commerce tripled compared with 2012.
E-commerce also helped more people get out of poverty. By the end of 2016, 2.39 million people were lifted out of poverty by developing e-commerce.
In Huanggang, in Central China’s Hubei province, 500 e-commerce businesses were introduced, creating 55 billion yuan ($8.5 billion) in business transactions in 2016, which helped its six impoverished villages, or 100,000 people, get out of poverty.
Developing e-commerce in rural regions can not only break the capital and geographical constraints and reduce costs, but can also broaden agricultural products’ sales channels and strengthen brand promotion.
In addition, the development of e-commerce can boost the standardization of the agricultural industry and improve large-scale production of agricultural products.
To help people get rid of poverty through the development of rural e-commerce special industries is still new and needs time to mature. Many challenges lie ahead.
The first is how to compete in the market. The characteristic industries of e-commerce are faced with the dual competition between e-commerce and traditional industries. Talent in the e-commerce industry is also in short supply.
Winning the fight against poverty has entered a medium-term stage. More support — such as improving Internet infrastructure construction, providing more discounts for e-commerce businesses, cultivating talent in rural regions, promoting construction of the industrial chain and improving industrial communication — is needed.
The author is a professor at the College of Humanities and Development Studies of China Agricultural University. The views do not necessarily reflect those of China Daily.