Situated 3,000 to 4,000 meters above sea level, En’s hometown region in Yunnan’s Lujiangba Valley has a dry climate and average annual temperatures of 21 degrees Celsius: all prime conditions for growing top-quality Arabica coffee.
In recent years, the region’s coffee has gained a good reputation and following among consumers, thanks in part to e-commerce platforms like Pinduoduo. By selling to agricultural merchants operating on Pinduoduo, coffee farmers like the Ens were able to tap more directly to a bigger consumer base and get better pricing for their crops. They are among the more than 16 million farmers who have connected to the digital economy through Pinduoduo’s platform.
As part of its “Tech for Agri” vision to aid agricultural digitization, Pinduoduo has focused on increasing market accessibility through its e-commerce platform, improving digital inclusion and literacy through tailor-made online training programs, and fostering innovation to deliver a productivity leapfrog by promoting agritech solutions and horticultural breakthroughs.
In Yunnan, Pinduoduo has been deeply involved in the region’s poverty alleviation and rural development efforts, establishing a series of rural coffee initiatives to help farmers learn new skills and improve their livelihoods.
Pinduoduo helped connect local agricultural cooperatives with coffee processors and provided marketing support to help these coffee farmers kickstart their sales on the platform. The company also brought many of the area’s New Farmers – young agricultural talent – to coffee conventions in Shanghai to learn about the sales and marketing of coffee.
By connecting growers and New Farmers with its pool of more than 800 million consumers, Pinduoduo is helping to bring the area’s coffee to new consumers. As the region’s coffee becomes more well-known and sought after, the higher demand translates to more sales and better incomes for the farmers.
The rural coffee programs are also part of broader efforts by Pinduoduo to get younger and more digitally savvy generations interested in agriculture. It is common for young people from poorer families to leave rural areas and head to cities for work. Pinduoduo is enabling them to create their own businesses, make the same income back home and help their communities.
By mid-2020, the company has helped over 100,000 New Farmers to start farming businesses, assisting with logistics and providing a marketplace for produce. It has since pledged to train another 100,000 e-commerce merchants to boost sales from farms through online channels.
For En Huilan, being part of the digital economy has brought improvement to her family’s living standards. It has also widened her horizons.
While she still does not understand why people in the cities like the taste of coffee, she would like to find out for herself.
One day in the future, she said, she would like to venture out of these mountains to see who is drinking the coffee that her family grew.