Oct 16, 2020|

JD’s “Helping Farmers” Initiative Boosts a Village Bloom


by Kelly Dawson

Ahead of the International Day for the Eradication of Poverty on October 17th, JD.com continues its work linking poverty alleviation with rural revitalization, which in recent years has become an important proposition for the Chinese economy. One recipient of JD’s ongoing efforts in this area is a tiny village nestled in the lush hills of the Eastern Chinese province of Shandong.

Located in Pingyin County, every household in this village grows roses to be harvested for rose tea, essential rose oil and other medicines. Blooming across 1,000 acres, the roses are large with plump petals and rich with fragrance. They are China’s only edible variety.

A few years ago, these rural farmers had never heard of professional terms like “mechanization,” or “quality standards”. Today, thanks to their cooperation with JD, this tiny village’s roses generate annual sales exceeding RMB 100 million yuan.

“In the past, everyone only knew farming, not technology,” a farmer named Liu Qiang said. “Now JD is empowering our rose planting industry in all aspects by integrating full platform and channel resources such as supply chain, logistics, talent, and traffic.”

At 4 o’clock one recent early morning, Liu Qiang and his wife stood waiting for their double red roses to bloom. At the right moment, they would pluck the rose corollas, which have more nutritional value than the buds.

Until a few years ago, many of the farmers did not understand that they could earn more money with rose corollas than they could with the full rose, Liu said. Although Liu has more than 30 years of experience growing roses, there were natural limitations to how much the farmers could achieve on their own, he said.

The village struggled to maximize profits, which are directly correlated with how quickly the freshly picked roses can be processed and transported. For the roses, which lose value as they wilt, every minute counts.

In 2019, Liu Qiang and his fellow farmers in the village began cooperating with the local specialty store for their region on JD, part of the ecommerce platform’s efforts to sell local specialties from various regions on a national scale.

As part of this farmers’ assistance program, JD started by formulating official grading standards for roses, including corolla size, weight, level of openness, and more. They also unified and coordinated village committees and cooperatives to set up acquisition sites to connect the farmers. After the roses had been picked, they would be quickly loaded into JD’s cold chain logistics trucks and directly transported to nearby production and processing workshops.

Next, the roses would undergo a series of high-tech processing procedures, including -41 ℃ cryogenic freeze-drying, double heat pump cryogenic drying, subcritical vacuum extraction, automatic flower processing and more. Finally, the finished rose tea product would be launched on JD’s local specialty store and delivered to customers all over China and beyond, thanks to JD’s logistics network.

In addition to these process upgrades, JD also assisted Liu and the other farmers with marketing efforts online. In a market that is brimming with rose tea brands, JD opened all channels and platforms to promote the tea via multiple livestreams and other marketing resources.

Ultimately this double-pronged approach helped the village generate annual sales of more than RMB100 million yuan. Additionally, a new package of farmers’ assistance measures announced by JD ahead of the 618 promotion period resulted in a 150% increase in sales in the first half of the year—despite the pandemic.

JD also announced a “Helping Agriculture” project in September, with the goal of driving annual income growth of brand cooperative farmers by 100%. Liu and the other farmers of this village will benefit from these efforts.

Wang Guangyuan, the operator of JD’s local specialty division, believes that Liu’s small village in Pingyin will continue to flourish.

“As a result of JD’s industry chain, the lives of farmers can be improved,” he said. “That also means more people will enjoy the fragrance and charm of Pingyin roses.”