Pinduoduo, China’s largest agriculture platform, will do more to promote digital inclusion by contributing to the digitization of the agriculture ecosystem, according to Chairman and CEO Chen Lei.
The outbreak of the Covid-19 pandemic last year disrupted food supply chains and threatened farmer livelihoods. The crisis also led to breakthroughs in innovation, with livestreaming and e-commerce giving many rural communities the means to connect with and sell directly to consumers nationwide for the first time.
As Covid-19 affected food supply last year, Pinduoduo held livestreaming sessions with poverty-stricken farming communities to promote their agricultural products and created a dedicated “Help the Farmers” channel to showcase fresh produce from affected areas.
“2020 has made us more committed than ever to continue to promote digital inclusion of rural communities and the disadvantaged,” Chen said on Wednesday, when the company reported quarterly results. “Pinduoduo has created a level playing field for businesses of all sizes, including in the agricultural sector, where margins are thinner.”
The popularity of livestreaming and agricultural e-commerce has given rise to new roles requiring different skills, creating opportunities for people who may otherwise be excluded from agriculture due to its physical demands, Chen said.
Pinduoduo has trained more than 100,000 “New Farmers” in how to operate e-commerce businesses and has committed to train 100,000 more. Many of these “New Farmers” are digitally savvy youths who have since returned to their hometowns to set up online businesses and help their rural communities sell their produce.
Pinduoduo has focused on agriculture since its establishment in 2015, bringing a systems approach to addressing the interrelated issues of how to grow, move and sell food.
The company’s initiatives include improving downstream market access for farmers and training younger talent, revamping midstream logistics infrastructure to reduce waste, lower costs and speed up the delivery of agricultural products. Pinduoduo also works with industry partners and universities to develop upstream technology to increase the resilience of the food supply chain.
Its efforts were recognized by the central government in February, where Pinduoduo was one of three technology companies commended for their outstanding contributions to China’s poverty alleviation drive.
Over 12 million farmers sell their produce on Pinduoduo, which serves 788 million customers from across China. Over half of the online stores actively engaged in the sale of agricultural products are managed by women.
Pinduoduo will continue to use its scale and reach to help rural communities, which lie at the heart of the food supply chain, said Chen.
“This is a win-win situation for everyone,” Chen said. “With our commitment to social responsibility, we definitely want to and will do more here, including by providing further training for them to sell well on our platform.”