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Pinduoduo pledges $1.5 billion to Chinese farmers

Pinduoduo, one of China’s biggest agriculture platforms, has pledged to contribute $1.5 billion to Chinese growers and the agricultural industry. The company explained they want to promote environmentally sustainable practices and invest in the agri-food system. The company announced the creation of a “10 Billion Agriculture Initiative,” and said it would allocate 10 billion yuan ($1.5 billion) of profits to "facilitate the advancement of agritech, promote digital inclusion, and provide agritech talents and workers with greater motivation and a sense of achievement."

Pinduoduo’s move comes after president Xi Jinping’s government rolled out new rules to eradicate monopolistic practices and unfair competition earlier this year. Previously, tech giant Tencent had given away a hefty portion of its profits to government social programs but Pinduoduo opted for agricultural programs.

“Agriculture has long been at the core of Pinduoduo’s corporate mission and strategy and the 10 Billion Agriculture Initiative is a way for us to deepen our support for agricultural modernization and rural revitalization,” said Chen Lei, Chairman and CEO of Pinduoduo, who will oversee the initiative. “Investing in agriculture pays off for everyone because agriculture is the nexus of food security and quality, public health and environmental sustainability.”

The announcement came on the same day that Pinduoduo announced it had amassed 850 million users. Since its earliest days as a marketplace for fruits and vegetables, Pinduoduo has made agriculture a central part of its corporate development.

On the distribution front, Pinduoduo has been investing heavily into building a distribution network that is low-cost and able to handle fragile agricultural food products with lower wastage and spoilage. The company has worked with local governments and agriculture institutes to teach farmers better growing techniques and promoted farm goods from impoverished regions to its consumers to boost demand.

In its annual harvest festival, Pinduoduo is emphasizing quality by promoting agricultural food products from China’s geographical indications. Pinduoduo has also sought to demonstrate the efficacy of smart farming practices by organizing an annual Smart Agriculture Competition to attract more young talent to develop cost-effective “one-click planting” solutions that are suitable for China’s smallholder farmers.

In this year’s contest, launched earlier this month, participants will be competing not only to grow more tomatoes at lower cost but also will be judged on the nutritional value and environmental footprint of their growing practices.