By Zhao Zhanhui, People’s Daily
Sales of products from China’s poverty-stricken areas exceeded 330 billion yuan (about $50.16 billion) in the first 10 months of this year, doubling the amount of last year’s 160 billion yuan, according to a press conference on China’s pro-consumption campaign to aid poverty alleviation held by the State Council Information Office on Nov. 24.
Since the beginning of 2019, the government, enterprises and all sectors of society have directly purchased or helped sell specialty agricultural products worth nearly 500 billion yuan from poverty-stricken areas through consumption-driven poverty reduction efforts, according to preliminary statistics.
Guo Lanfeng, deputy secretary-general of the National Development and Reform Commission (NDRC), said that the policy system for poverty alleviation by consuming products and services from poor areas has been gradually improved, with innovative ways and emerging models such as targeted procurement, and replacing donation and assistance with purchase.
Activities including the China Forum for Consumption and Poverty Alleviation, and a month-long national pro-consumption campaign to promote poverty alleviation were held. As a result, there is a growing consensus throughout the society to participate in poverty relief efforts through consumption.
Driven by poverty alleviation efforts through consumption, per capita income from net operation of rural residents in poor areas rose by 7.1 percent year on year to 4,163 yuan in 2019. The growth expanded by 2.7 percentage points.
Despite the impact of the COVID-19 outbreak, the per capita net operating income of rural residents in poor areas rose by 4.9 percent on a yearly basis during the first six months of this year, higher than the growth rate of China’s GDP during the same period.
This year, departments and organizations of the central government have launched special programs to alleviate stagnant sales of farm produce in central China’s Hubei province, which was hit hard by the epidemic.
According to preliminary data, by the end of October, departments and organizations of the central government had directly purchased over 1.6 billion yuan worth of agricultural products from Hubei, while providing assistance that led to sales worth 17 billion yuan, said Cheng Yongwen, head of the Hubei provincial development and reform commission.
For example, the All China Federation of Supply and Marketing Cooperatives had organized 46 organizations to directly purchase over 13 million yuan worth of major products that encountered poor sales such as tea, crayfish, and shii-take from the province, while helping sales worth 3.4 billion yuan.
E-commerce platforms have also redoubled efforts to boost sales of agricultural products from Hubei.
Meanwhile, People’s Daily, Xinhua News Agency, China Media Group and other state-owned media had launched charity activities to assist Hubei in the fight against the epidemic. People’s Daily app launched an online activity to call for purchasing products from the province, attracting over 30 million views.
Shanghai has made good progress in helping boost sales of agricultural products in poor areas. According to Chen Xiaoyun, head of the Shanghai Municipal Government’s Cooperation and Exchange Office, the city has promoted sales of 12 billion yuan worth of agricultural products from poor areas across China, including over 6 billion yuan worth of products from Yunnan province and Zunyi city in Guizhou province.
Currently, the NDRC, the State Council Leading Group Office of Poverty Alleviation and Development and other departments are conducting a comprehensive evaluation of policies and measures of poverty alleviation through consumption implemented during China’s 13th Five-Year Plan period (2016-2020).
China will upgrade its favorable policies during the 14th Five-Year plan period (2021-2025). The country will, during the period, mainly focus on the areas facing tough challenges in consolidating the results of poverty alleviation, low-income people in the rural areas, and major counties that need assistance in their rural vitalization work, said Tong Zhangshun, an official with the NDRC.
To this end, China will adhere to the market-oriented approach, pay more attention to respecting the wishes of consumers and leverage the role of market entities.
China will provide all-round assistance for poor areas through pro-consumption poverty alleviation efforts, and help these areas to thrive on their own through poverty alleviation by developing industries and education, Guo added.
Guo explained that the NDRC will enhance guidance to set up enterprises and foster featured industries in poor areas, and ensure that investment in education will be further weighted toward poor areas.