Heiliqimu Niaz, an apricot farmer in Luntai County, Xinjiang Uygur Autonomous Region in northwest China, is no longer worried about selling his fresh produce during this year’s harvest season.
At around 6 every morning, Niaz and other fruit farmers would take their freshly picked apricots to a processing center and the selected produce would be sent via cold chains to warehouses of Freshhema, e-commerce giant Alibaba’s retail platform, all over the country.
In Xinjiang, Luntai County is one of the main areas producing small white apricots.
However, due to a short harvest season of less than a month and transportation problems, selling fresh apricots to markets outside Xinjiang seemed to be impossible.
“In the past, we only sold dried apricots, preserved apricots and other processed apricot products,” Niaz said.
“It takes 1.5 kg of fresh apricots to make 0.5 kg dried apricots, but the price of 0.5 kg dried apricots is lower than fresh apricots of the same weight,” said Cao Chunbo, Chairman of the Luntai County Apricot Association. “If farmers want to increase their income, they have to sell more fresh apricots.”
The Internet economy has provided a golden ticket for fruit farmers in Xinjiang. In 2019, online retail sales of rural products in the region reached 11.9 billion yuan ($1.68 billion), up 29 percent year on year.
Relying on the rapid development of e-commerce and logistics, Xinjiang’s fresh apricots have “flown” to all parts of the country.
“We picked unripe apricots and after repeated tests found 2 degrees centigrade to 4 degrees centigrade to be the best storage temperature, which would not cause frostbite while guaranteeing the natural ripening of apricots during transportation,” said Ou Xinghong, an employee of Freshhema.
Freshhema is expected to purchase nearly 200 tons of fresh apricots in Luntai County this year. To ensure quality, local government, farmers and Freshhema have jointly built a demonstration garden of over 33 hectares as a planting sample base for small white apricots.
“We encourage farmers to cooperate with e-retailers such as Freshhema, which will not only make Xinjiang’s apricots more famous, but also bring more benefits to farmers,” Cao said.