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China Develops Agritech for Food Safety

Image credits: news.cgtn.com

China is stepping up research of agricultural technologies to safeguard food supply in the world’s most populated country. Sweeping new scientific achievements, from new rice varieties to a technology that improves soil fertility, are also helping to solve the global food crisis.

Chinese Academy of Agricultural Sciences (CAAS) released a plan for promoting key subjects during the country’s 14th Five-Year Plan period (2021-2025) to enhance its agricultural sci-tech innovation. By 2020, the rate of agricultural technological development’s contribution to China’s economic growth rate had reached over 60%, and the coverage rate of improved varieties of crops had reached over 96%.

Scientists are also looking at the sky. They used space-bred lotus to help farmers in Jiangxi Province improve output. Some research is also set to benefit people around the world. Chinese scientists are using genome design technology to improve the plant’s breeding speed and reproduction efficiency. Initial research has shown excellent performance.

Thanks to a succession of bumper harvests in recent years, China has enjoyed an ample supply of major agricultural products and ensured basic self-sufficiency in cereal grains and absolute grain security. The government has pledged to reinforce the underpinning role of science and technology in agricultural production.

In light of the national conditions and people’s needs, science-based and result-oriented efforts will be made to shore up the areas of weakness. The development of farming machinery and equipment will also get government support as the country strives to use technological innovation to improve quality and efficiency in the agricultural sector.

According to Statista around 25% of China´s workforce are in agriculture, but the sector is based largely on small, family-owned farms, and it is in many cases still quite old fashioned. In part due to the COVID-19 pandemic, the global food shortage is growing, and China has for years known that there will be a battle of resources in the future to feed the world´s largest nation. One of the answers that is also backed by the national government is using tech to optimise output.

Artificial intelligence (AI) is at the top of the national agenda, however mostly applied in sectors such as finance, healthcare and smart city solutions. A report made it clear that farming was one of the industries left furthest behind in smart technologies, but also one of the areas with the biggest potential to upgrade.

China will improve efforts to create higher yields and higher quality production of major food crop varieties, and self-sufficiency in major livestock and poultry varieties by 2030 by deploying technology, as reported by OpenGov Asia. China released an action plan to promote the national seed industry late last month in Sanya, South China’s Hainan province, where the Nanfan Scientific and Research Breeding Base is located.

The plan lays out the necessary theoretical, scientific and technological developments for the industry to improve seed varieties and grain yields, and ensure the protection of national germplasm resources. Since the beginning of the 13th Five-Year Plan (2016-2020), China’s ability to innovate in breeding technology has continued to rise. However, China is still in the process of developing breeding theories and key technologies.

China will introduce 50 major tasks focused on key crop and livestock varieties, and three specific actions involving innovative research, seed enterprises and the creation of a science and technology platform. China will strive to achieve high-yield, high-quality self-sufficiency in food crop varieties by 2030, and ensure the absolute security of the country’s rice and wheat.

By 2030, the self-sufficiency rate of vegetable varieties, such as broccoli, carrots and spinach, will rise from the current 10% to more than 50%. Moreover, a platform will be built to boost seed industry technology, integrating basic research, technological innovation, variety creation, big data, and industry incubation.

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