Internet brings prosperity to fishing village in E China

Female villagers of Yanhu village, Yangzhou, east China's Jiangsu Province make environment-friendly bags with local characteristics in a maker classroom, Feb. 25, 2021. (Photo by Zhuang Wenbin/People's Daily Online)

Liu Liu raised her mobile phone and put on a headset, trying to present local sceneries and customs with a long take.

“Welcome to my livestream show. This is Yanhu village, Fangxiang Township, Hanjiang District of Yangzhou, Jiangsu Province. On the west bank of Shaobo Lake, our village has three famous local specialties: dried shrimps, prickly waterlilies and water chestnuts.

The two-hour livestream show received over 1,000 views and sold 1,850 yuan ($283) of farm produce.

Liu Liu graduated from Yangzhou University last year and returned to her hometown to start her own business – a livestream marketing group consisting of a dozen of her fellow villagers. The business earned them over 800,000 yuan in 2020.

Liu Liu’s story is just an epitome of the efforts made by hundreds of millions of Chinese people to build their country and a moderately prosperous society in all respects.

Yanhu is a fishing village that was once in a debt of 200,000 yuan. In 2007, the village initiated a project to encourage its residents to live onshore. Ten years later, it kicked off another project of “aquafarms for lake.” As of the end of 2019, the last fisherman moved onshore.

Thanks to a rural tourism campaign launched in Yangzhou two years ago, Yanhu village became a hot tourist destination for its splendid lakeside sceneries and delicious food.

However, the COVID-19 epidemic that broke out earlier last year threw the villagers, who had just tasted the joy of success, in dark clouds.

To relieve the predicament, Liu Debao, Party head of the village resorted to online marketing, and invited experts to teach the villagers who were totally inexperienced.

“The older generations abandoned their fishnets and moved onshore from the lake, and the young generation is going further, moving from the shore to the internet,” said the Party head, explaining what inspired him to do so.

Assisted by teachers from Yangzhou Institute of Technology, the village opened social media accounts and online stores, and established a culture and tourism company.

It also has a livestream marketing team that teaches how to cook local dishes and sells local specialties.

Liu Liu and her partners made full preparation before starting their first ever livestream show. However, the show didn’t meet expectations.

“We were simply repeating our scripts all the time, and only attracted 15 followers and sold 100 yuan of commodities,” Liu Liu told the People’s Daily.

To improve the situation, the 24-year-old and her partners decided to tell the stories of local fishermen, who come from various parts of China, and introduce their unique ways of production and life on the show.

The strategy was proved to be successful soon, and led to hot sales of the local specialties of Yanhu village.

For instance, villager Liu Deyu, whose duck eggs were once unsalable, sold over 100,000 eggs on a livestream show. Seeing the performance, local farmers are rushing to send their farm produce to Liu Liu and her team.

“We once purchased products from over 100 households, and raised the purchasing price of dried shrimps from 200 yuan to 120 yuan per kilogram, to offer more dividends of e-commerce to the villagers,” Liu Liu said. There are also fishermen who sent handmade sachets and bamboo crafts to her for consignment sales.

Through internet, the tourism of Yanhu village once again prospered. The B&B rooms of Liu Liu’s family were all booked half a month before the 3-day Qingming Festival holiday at the beginning of this month.

“We have received 50,000 visits this year, and the annual tourism revenue is expected to reach 16 million yuan,” Liu Debao. Establishing tea houses, book stores, B&Bs, and maker classrooms, the village now offers services related to team building, education tourism, and meetings. The village is now engaged in multiple businesses of rural tourism and bringing a prosperous life to its residents.