Chinese logistics network expands markets of agricultural products

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By Li Xinping, Wang Yongzhan, People’s Daily

The hottest days of the summer mark a time when peaches mature and hit the market.

At 9:30 am, a box of peaches was sent to a Beijing consumer after a long air journey. The delivery took only less than 16 hours from a village in southwest China to the capital in the north.

It’s hard to imagine that at 5:00 pm the day before, these peaches were still hanging on the trees in an orchard in Baoshi village, Longquanyi district, Chengdu, southwest China’s Sichuan province.

Longquanyi district is a major producer of peaches in China. It boasts fertile purple soil that’s rich in nutrients that are good for growing peaches, such as phosphorus and potassium.

In 2016, a cooperative was established by 51 farmers in the district under the support of the local bureau of agriculture and rural affairs. They contributed their land as equity, started large-scale planting and implemented unified production, operation and sales. Today, the cooperative has 147 farmers and an orchard area covering over 1,400 mu (93.3 hectares), 400 mu of which has already produced fruit.

Both the varieties and management of peaches matter. Xiao Jiajie, a 47-year-old agricultural technician of the cooperative told People’s Daily that the cooperative has planted many varieties bred by experts from the Sichuan Academy of Agricultural Sciences, who often visit the orchards to guide farmers in scientific planting techniques.

With the new facilities, techniques and varieties brought by the experts, peaches produced in Baoshi village are improving in quality and quantity. “We can produce over 1,000 kg per mu,” Xiao said while picking a peach, “This variety tastes more crisp and sweet.”

At 5:45 pm, Xiao arrived at a parcel collection center in the village with the peaches she had just picked from the trees. Covered with shockproof and air-permeable packages, the peaches were loaded onto a truck for shipment.

Chen Qingfeng, a supervisor of the cooperative, said that the cooperative enjoys discounts on shipment charges with the agreements signed with express delivery companies. At least four trucks would go to the village for collecting peaches.

The cooperative is expected to see a sales volume of 2 million yuan ($292,817) this year, half of which will be achieved through e-commerce, Chen said.

About an hour later, Xiao’s peaches arrived at a transfer station of Chinese logistics giant SF Express at Chengdu Shuangliu International Airport, where they were disinfected and sorted in a special fast track. A freight plane was already waiting there on a runway.

Since this year, SF Express has designated nearly 1,000 vehicles and five planes for the shipment of Longquanyi peaches. As of Aug. 9, the company had transported over 1,000 tons of peaches from the district.

The “peach expresses” are spread all over China’s major production areas. The company has also deployed 400 flights, each with a capacity of over 10,000 tons, as well as nine high-speed freight trains to expand the market of peaches produced in Yangshan, east China’s Jiangsu province. Between June 1 and Aug. 8, SF Express shipped over 4 million parcels containing Yangshan peaches, up around 30 percent year on year.

At 1:20 am the next day, Xiao’s peaches took off with the plane, and they were soon sorted and delivered to the Beijing buyer. The seasonal fruits, still fresh and juicy, have completed their 16-hour journey.

The journey mirrored the efforts of Chinese express delivery companies to increase their infrastructure investment and expand their shipment capacity by air, high-speed railway and road. It indicated a huge improvement in China’s shipping capacity.

In the first half of this year, 21.9 billion parcels were collected from and delivered to China’s rural areas, facilitating 290 billion yuan of online retail sales, up 12.4 percent over the same period last year.

More agricultural products are offered to a larger market through the constantly improving logistics network, boosting farmer income and surprising consumers.

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