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Internet Plus Agriculture model to promote integrated rural development
Last Updated: 2018-06-28 09:14 | Xinhua
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China will improve internet services and information technology (IT) infrastructure under the "Internet Plus Agriculture" model, as decided during a State Council executive meeting chaired by Premier Li Keqiang on Wednesday.

The move will promote integrated development of the primary, secondary and tertiary industries in rural areas and bring farmers more business opportunities that help increase their income.

The market will play a greater role in the implementation of the rural revitalization strategy. Internet technologies will be extensively applied to make agricultural production better targeted and effective and enable farmers to adapt to shifting market dynamics. All this is crucial to upgrading agricultural performance and raising farmers' income.

The meeting adopted several measures to develop the "Internet Plus Agriculture" model for integrated rural development, which is a high priority on the agenda of the Chinese government.

Premier Li pointed out in the government work report this year that China will advance supply-side structural reform in agriculture and develop the "Internet Plus Agriculture" model while using multiple channels to increase rural incomes, and that China will encourage the primary, secondary and tertiary industries to develop in an integrated way in rural areas.

As an important means for integrated rural development, the Internet Plus Agriculture model has made a notable difference in recent years, Li said.

"This model has played a key role in raising farmers' income and helping them tide over low prices of agricultural products. We should continue to apply it well as a matter of high priority," he said.

Statistics from the Ministry of Agriculture and Rural Affairs show that recent years have seen new forms of industry flourish in the rural areas driven by a boom of local e-commerce.

In 2017, the online retail sales in rural areas totaled 1.25 trillion yuan (about 191 billion U.S. dollars), among which the online sales of agricultural products approached 300 billion yuan. Over 28 million jobs were created as a result.

By the end of last year, a total of 7.4 million people had chosen to start businesses in rural areas by 2017, among which more than half used internet technology.

"Better tailored to the diverse consumer needs, most online agricultural goods can sell at higher prices than offline sales," Li said at the meeting.

"The Internet Plus Agriculture model will be critical for creating rural employment, increasing farmers' income and boosting rural development."

It was decided at the meeting to accelerate IT application in agricultural production. Big data, the Internet of Things and cloud computing will be harnessed for more efficient agricultural production management and for digitized, internet-based and smart agricultural production and operation, particularly in areas such as seed breeding, farmland management and pest control.

Information technology will also be more widely used in the distribution of agricultural products. The Internet Plus model will be implemented to widen the circulation of agricultural products. The services of e-commerce platforms and logistics efficiency need to be improved to better match the demand of e-commerce businesses and supply from small household farmers, family farms and farm cooperatives. Supporting facilities, such as processing, packaging, storage, preservation and cold chain logistics will be strengthened to improve the marketability of farm produce and resolve the underpricing of quality products.

The possibility of government purchase of services will be explored, and private entities will be encouraged to develop new internet-based business models that benefit the farmers and further encourage mass entrepreneurship and innovation in rural areas.

Internet infrastructure in rural areas will be improved. Agriculture-related public information and service platforms will be established. More training on IT application will be provided to small household farmers, new types of agricultural businesses and owners of agritainment, so that smart phones become a new and powerful farm implement.

"Government departments should intensify infrastructure building, particularly in broadband internet, logistics and information systems, and frozen food warehousing," Li said.

"Regulation and guidance for online platforms must be enhanced. Regulation needs to be prudent yet accommodating, with new regulatory approaches introduced when necessary. It is as important to nurture new business models as to protect consumer rights and interests in the process to boost the healthy development of the Internet Plus Agriculture model," Li said.

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