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May 8, 2020

Live-streaming helped China’s farmers survive the pandemic. It’s here to stay

Posted by in category: biotech/medical

A few years after Li Jinxing graduated from college, he returned to his rural hometown to become a flower farmer. The days were long but the routine familiar: rise early and tend to the blossoms in the morning; trim and package those in bloom during the afternoon; deliver the parcels, delicately stacked in trucks, to customers by late evening.

Where the flowers ended up, Li was never quite sure. From his fields in Yunnan province, China, he sold them to national distributors who sold them to flower shops who sold them to end consumers. He imagined the beautiful fruits of his labor brightening up homes around the country. This had been the life work of his family for generations. It all threatened to come to an end with covid-19.

Li, 27, remembers the exact moment he heard about the viral outbreak: it was past midnight on January 20, 2020. The Chinese New Year was only five days away, and he had spent the day harvesting flowers in preparation for the expected holiday bump in sales. As he swiped through Douyin, China’s version of TikTok, he saw a fleeting mention of the disease. Li wasn’t sure what to think. Wuhan was nearly 1,200 miles away—the problem felt distant and intangible. Days later, it snowed on New Year’s Eve, he remembers. He took it as an auspicious sign.

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