China Agricultural University will join Pinduoduo as a co-organizer of the Smart Agriculture Competition, a unique contest that aims to foster interdisciplinary innovation by marrying algorithms and agronomy.
The Smart Agriculture Competition, which is being held for a second year, aims to promote the development of cost-effective technology that can help farmers to increase their productivity and improve their livelihoods in an environmentally sustainable manner. This year, the contest will draw teams from around the world to cultivate tomatoes using a combination of agronomic knowledge, algorithmic modeling, and precision automation.
“The Smart Agriculture Competition plays a unique role in that it aims to foster innovation that is usable by smallholder farmers, who produce around 80% of the food in China,” said Wang Hongqing, Professor of the School of Horticulture at China Agricultural University, a member of the competition’s judging panel.
“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,” Wang said.
As China’s largest agriculture platform, Pinduoduo spearheaded the creation of the Smart Agriculture Competition as a way to gather the top minds in agronomy and computer science to develop technology that can improve agriculture and build a more resilient food system. The competition is advised by the Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations and Wageningen University & Research.
For the inaugural Smart Agriculture Competition last year, teams of data scientists were pitted against traditional farmers to grow strawberries. The technology teams produced 196% more strawberries by weight on average compared with traditional farming methods, and outperformed in terms of the profitability of the investment.
In this year’s competition, judges will be evaluating the teams not only on yield and cost-effectiveness but also on the nutritional profile of the tomatoes and the environmental sustainability of their approach. This is in recognition of the important role that agriculture plays in the health of the population and its impact on the environment.
“Through the Smart Agriculture Competition, we hope to interest more young scientific talent in agriculture so that they can apply their talents to helping farmers,” said Andre Zhu, Senior Vice President at Pinduoduo. “Helping farmers to grow better not only helps people to eat better, but also has a positive impact on the environment.