Pinduoduo, China’s largest agriculture platform, deepened its agricultural digital inclusion efforts in 2021, spreading the benefits of the digital economy by connecting communities and facilitating the adoption of technology.
The company posted its fourth-quarter financial results on March 21, 2022. As of the end of 2021, Pinduoduo has connected over 16 million farmers to its 868.7 million buyers nationwide. A total of 61 billion orders were placed on the platform in 2021, representing a 59% increase from a year ago, driven by surging agricultural orders.
In 2021, Pinduoduo stepped up its efforts to support agricultural modernization through initiatives to help farmers expand market access, motivate more young people to take up agriculture, and advance the use of technology in agriculture.
“We believe technology is a force for good in agriculture,” said Chen Lei, Chairman and CEO of Pinduoduo. “We hope to do our part in sowing the seeds of innovation by increasing market opportunities, encouraging youth participation in agriculture and advocating the adoption of agricultural technology.”
Bringing farmers online
Agricultural e-commerce has broadened the channels through which farmers can sell their produce, giving them access to a much bigger pool of buyers. This ability to connect directly to consumers also means higher earnings for farmers.
Throughout last year, Pinduoduo initiated agriculture-focused shopping festivals with different regions to promote thousands of local specialties. Pinduoduo also worked with key partners such as China Central Television to launch livestreaming events, introducing agricultural treasures in different areas to nationwide audiences.
These events help to raise the profile of agricultural regions and channel more resources to local communities to upgrade their agricultural production and invest in brand-building.
To support the efforts in upgrading agriculture, Pinduoduo has waived its sales commission and provided more exposure to agricultural products. The Company also pledged to continue its “zero commission policy” on agricultural products.
Promoting smart agriculture
Further upstream, Pinduoduo invests in agricultural technology to help growers improve their productivity.
The Company organizes an annual Smart Agriculture Competition to encourage young agricultural researchers and technologists from around the world to develop cost-effective technology suitable for smallholder farmers. The co-organizers include China Agricultural University and Zhejiang University, with the UN Food and Agriculture Organization and Wageningen University & Research providing technical guidance and support.
Technologies developed during the first Smart Agriculture Competition is currently in use in several major strawberry-growing regions in China, including Liaoning, Anhui, and Yunnan, to manage growing conditions in greenhouses. Traditional growers can more than double their management capacity using the technologies, which determine the optimal climate conditions for strawberries and automate processes like irrigation.
Early indications from the current Smart Agriculture Competition, which began last summer, also show much higher yields for tomatoes than traditional growing methods, demonstrating the potential economic and environmental benefits of technology in agriculture.
Encouraging tech-savvy “New Farmers”
Younger talent is required to improve the way food is sold and distributed post-harvest.
Pinduoduo offers dedicated courses to equip interested youths with the necessary knowhow to set up their own e-commerce businesses, so that they can help their local communities to plug into the digital economy.
As of the end of October 2021, more than 126,000 young farming professionals born after 1995 have joined the Pinduoduo platform, up from 85,700 in 2020 and 29,700 in 2019.
These “New Farmers” have a key role to play in agricultural modernization and rural vitalization. Pinduoduo will devote more resources to expand its agricultural training programs and support more young agricultural entrepreneurs.
Addressing critical needs with technology
To deepen its commitment to agricultural and rural vitalization, Pinduoduo announced in August a dedicated 10 Billion Agriculture Initiative overseen by Chen to address critical needs in the agricultural sector and rural areas.
“Our strategy in agriculture is centered on technology and we believe that there is still a lot of room for technology adoption in agriculture,” Chen said. “As an agriculture platform, Pinduoduo will invest patiently and do our part to contribute to agricultural modernization.”
In 2021, the Company made a strategic shift toward research and development and put more emphasis on agricultural technology. “We see ourselves making more long-term investment, especially in agriculture and R&D,” Chen added.