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Livestreaming Farmers Earn Millions From Fruit on China’s TikTok

  • Rural livestreaming revenues have surged since the pandemic
  • E-commerce giants help a reverse in China’s rural migration
Brother Pomegranate Jin Guowei during a livestream.
Brother Pomegranate Jin Guowei during a livestream.Photographer: Liang Taiping

In 2018, village-born Jin Guowei was knee-deep in debt and peddling fruit to tourists in the streets of Lijiang, Yunnan. Now he’s Brother Pomegranate, an Internet sensation with 7.3 million followers and 300 million yuan ($46 million) of sales in 2020. He once sold 6 million yuan worth of pomegranates in 20 minutes.

Such is the growing trend of rural entrepreneurship in China. Farmers and agricultural vendors in remote provinces sell goods directly to urban consumers via interactive livestreams and bite-sized videos. Revenues generated by rural content creators on ByteDance Ltd.’s Douyin -- TikTok’s Chinese twin -- have grown 15-fold year-on-year, the company reported.