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Woman helps village sell produce online

China Daily | Updated: 2017-05-06 07:31

HOHHOT - It is early morning and Qi Xiaojing is driving her van to deliver freshly picked vegetables from her farm to the doors of residents in Ulanhot.

The 34-year-old ethnic Mongolian and university graduate manages her farm in Ping'an, a village in Ulanhot city in China's Inner Mongolia autonomous region.

She has 27 greenhouses and seven cold frames, covering 1.36 hectares.

"Vegetables and fruit can grow in cold frames in summer, and in greenhouses every season, so I am able to produce them year-round," she said.

This May Day holiday, she held the second annual strawberry festival on her farm, drawing more than 5,000 people to pick strawberries, taste local food and enjoy ethnic dance performances.

Woman helps village sell produce online

Last year, her farm earned a net income of 160,000 yuan ($23,200). With the financial support of the local government, she now has a new van and six delivery carts. But it was not easy when she started her business in 2013, four years after graduating from the Inner Mongolia University of Science and Technology.

She borrowed about 10,000 yuan from relatives and was only able to rent one greenhouse.

She grew mushrooms at first. With her husband, Shan Chunpeng, she would finish picking mushrooms around midnight, and Shan would pack and deliver them around 2 am with a secondhand truck that often broke down.

"He only slept three hours a day since he had another job at 6 am as a construction worker," she said.

In 2014, she decided to grow melons but they all died.

"My relatives were no longer willing to lend me money after seeing my failure. Those were really tough days," she recalled.

In 2015, she came up with the idea of opening an online store on the smartphone app WeChat, selling fruit and vegetables from her farm and other villagers'.

"The villagers were growing quality vegetables but did not have an effective channel to sell them. So, I thought that maybe I could help them," she said. "To my surprise, they sold really well in my online store."

Qi has helped more than 200 local households sell vegetables in Ulanhot as well as chickens to other cities in China. Each family's income has increased by about 6,000 yuan a year on average.

"With Qi taking charge of delivery and sales, I no longer have to take a bus to the city and be a street vendor," said Xing Changqing, a 54-year-old villager who sells cucumbers to Qi.

Guo Shihuai, the village's Party chief, said university graduates like Qi are brave enough to try new things.

Qi's father expected her to stay in the city after graduation, but she insisted on returning to the countryside.

"There is a sense of achievement when I can share the benefits with the villagers. Sharing is important for an entrepreneur," she said.

With Qi taking the lead, 20 households in the village have started greenhouse-farming businesses.

She plans to open Ulanhot's first delivery station in June.

"I hope that I will be able to understand market demand better to realize my dream of selling products from my farm and villagers' farms to more cities in the country."


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