Feature: Rural Chinese influencer reaps crop of devoted viewers-Xinhua

Feature: Rural Chinese influencer reaps crop of devoted viewers

Source: Xinhua

Editor: huaxia

2023-09-23 16:25:15

NANCHANG, Sept. 23 (Xinhua) -- With a passion fruit orchard beside him, Liu Suliang stood in front of a camera and tasted a juicy fruit he had just plucked from a tree. He jokingly took a spoon out of his pocket and said that he was ready for a hearty feast.

"I have been longing for the passion fruits from the orchard for several months, and now I have finally made it," said 34-year-old Liu, addressing the camera with a humourous twist, as if he were the "neighborhood foodie" always fixated on his neighbors' delectable treats.

This lighthearted gesture is just one of the many ways Liu supports farmers in his hometown in selling their agricultural products.

Liu and the cameraman Hu Yueqing are known on the internet as the "Huanong Brothers," literally meaning "Chinese farmer brothers." For almost six years, they have been filming the non-filtered rural life of their hometown Gujiaying Village in Quannan County, east China's Jiangxi Province.

To date, the "Huanong Brothers" have amassed more than 6.27 million followers on Bilibili, a popular video-sharing and streaming platform in China, placing the pair among the ranks of Chinese rural online sensations.

"The original intention of our videos was to record daily life and bring happiness to viewers," said 35-year-old Hu, once a factory worker. "That intention remains unchanged."

Hu has had an interest in shooting engaging videos since he was very young.

In late 2017, Hu's ideas struck a chord with his former classmate Liu Suliang, and thus "Huanong Brothers" was born. The voluble and gregarious Liu became the on-camera guy, while Hu, who is much more shy and quiet, is responsible for filming and video editing.

Their casual, idyllic yet humorous video clips went viral in 2018 and soon shot them to online stardom.

An outpour of sponsorship deals and followers has brought them wealth and opportunities to leave their relatively undeveloped hometown, but the pair prefer to stay and help boost the county's development by contracting rural land and selling local agricultural products.

In 2020, the pair contracted over 100 mu (about 6.67 hectares) of land in Gujiaying Village to develop animal husbandry and crop farming, and employed villagers to manage the farmland. The vibrant village has also provided a colorful backdrop for their videos.

As the pair constantly incorporates local agricultural products, such as mushrooms, honey, and navel oranges, into their video content, they have successfully established an online platform for communal sales of these products over the years.

Within three months of the bumper navel orange harvest last year, "Huanong Brothers" received more than 200,000 orders, bringing the local farmers an income of 8.4 million yuan (about 1.15 million U.S. dollars).

Rural content creators or influencers like "Huanong Brothers" have flocked to Chinese social media apps such as Douyin, the Chinese version of TikTok, and Bilibili.

Over the past year, Douyin added more than 459 million pieces of videos themed on China's rural life, with over 41.5 billion likes, according to a report released by the platform in April.

Chow Hong Yu, a 43-year-old Hong Kong resident, is an enthusiast of videos depicting Chinese rural life. Growing up in the bustling city, Chow has always yearned for the idyllic natural environment and the slow-paced rural life portrayed by the "Huanong Brothers."

Since 2019, Chow has volunteered to translate the subtitles of "Huanong Brothers" videos into English and shared them on YouTube. The account has garnered followers from countries including the United States, Malaysia and Indonesia.

"I would like to share the authentic Chinese rural life with people around the world, and to make the rural lifestyle understood and voices heard," Chow said.