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Farmers Reap Windfall on the Internet

Local farmers have discovered that selling their products on the Internet can be quite profitable, municipal agricultural officials said.

This year, more than 3,000 farmers who are listed on the Shanghai Agricultural Commission's information Website (shac.gov.cn) generated e-commerce sales totaling 200 million yuan (US$25 million), according to official statistics.

No figures are available from last year, the website is the first, because they weren't compiled, said commission officials, who are convinced that more local farmers can utilize e-commerce.

"Usually, the supply of agricultural products exceeds demand. So it is impossible for local farmers to sell their products solely by hawking them along the street," said Huang Zhenzhong, a commission official. "E-commerce, as a modern marketing method, has proven beneficial in selling the municipality's agricultural products." For example, Songjiang District established contacts with wholesalers in Zhejiang, Jiangsu and Guangdong provinces via the Internet. The watermelons grown in Songjiang quickly sold out this summer, but orders continued to come in, Huang said.

Han Yuan, a Songjiang agricultural officer, added, "Farmers regretted that they didn't have more watermelons available."

To encourage more farmers to become engaged in e-commerce, the commission selected 10 who have been successful in e-commerce as role models that others could emulate.

Tang Xueliang, one of the 10 so-called "masters," managed to sell his exotic birds to more than 30 cities, achieving e-commerce sales totaling 12 million yuan this year, while off-line sales reached 9 million yuan.

"I used to rush around the country for business. But now I can do business by sitting in front of my computer at home," he said. "The Internet offers me a wide range of information and clients."

Gu Jidong, who was nicknamed "the King of Bees" for his success in selling honey products, added, "E-commerce helps lower the cost and generates larger orders. I believe it's local agriculture's new trend."

(eastday.com December 26, 2001)

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