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China Fosters Innovation and Modernisation in Agriculture

Two Chinese universities and  An agriculture-focused technology company have jointly announced the launch of an agricultural technology project to foster innovation and promote agricultural modernisation. Contestants will take a multidisciplinary approach, applying nutrition science, precision farming and other relevant technology to cultivate tomatoes.

The winners will be judged on yield, nutritional value, environmental sustainability and commercial viability. The competition is open to young agronomists and computer scientists from around the world and offers a total prize pool of more than 1 million yuan ($154,000). A total of 15 teams will be shortlisted by the judging panel to present their plans. The four teams with the highest scores will proceed to the final round of the competition.

The agriculture-focused technology company is managing the annual project as part of its support for global efforts to improve and modernise the agri-food system through technology. As China’s largest agriculture platform serving 824 million consumers, the company has made agriculture a central part of its mission to improve the way food is grown, transported and sold.

The driving force for the improvement of the agricultural industry comes from the development and application of cutting-edge technologies. As China’s largest platform for agriculture, the company wants to play their part to improve food security and quality sustainably. The teams will be judged not just on yield but also on the nutritional value and environmental impact of their farming methods.

The Smart Agriculture project plays a unique role to foster tech innovation that is usable by smallholder farmers, who produce around 80% of the food in China. It is an important platform for the different stakeholders in the agri-food ecosystem to come together to develop practical, cost-effective, and environmentally sustainable solutions for working farms.

Vice President of China Agricultural University

In last year’s inaugural project, the four technology teams employed data analysis, intelligent sensors and greenhouse automation to grow strawberries, producing 196% more fruit by weight on average compared with experienced farmers. Two of the technology teams have started to commercialise their technology, resulting in real-life gains in productivity for local farmers. China’s farming sector will undergo tremendous change, making the leap from traditional agriculture to modern agriculture.

The agriculture tech company is unique among other large internet companies to make digitising the agriculture industry a core and strategic priority. The company is also actively evaluating global opportunities to solve food safety and food security issues.

The Food and Agriculture Organisation of the United Nations (FAO) Representative to China stated that technology is transforming agriculture and food production. It is extremely important to implement the digital transformation of agriculture and improve food safety.

As reported by OpenGov Asia,  Digital technology is bound to play a bigger role in the country’s steps toward rural vitalisation and agricultural modernisation. The digitalisation of rural industries is key to developing the countryside, and it is a new driver of a sustainable rural economy.

Integrating new technology like big data, Artificial Intelligence (AI) and the Internet of Things (IoT) with crop and livestock production will be central to developing smart agriculture. The involvement of digital technologies across the supply chain will help increase efficiency while reducing costs.

The push toward digital agriculture is the result of a plan released in January last year aimed at improving smart agriculture and providing support for rural vitalisation in the years leading up to 2025. Jointly released by the Ministry of Agriculture and Rural Affairs and the Cyberspace Administration of China, the plan proposed building a basic data system for rural areas to facilitate targeted management and services. The plan highlighted research into and the use of intelligent agricultural machinery as well as the development of smart agriculture based on the internet of things, sensors, location systems, and robots.

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