The bar has risen even higher for teams taking part inPinduoduo’s Smart Agriculture Competition. Not only must they show they canimprove yield, but these young researchers must also grow tomatoes of highnutritional quality using the most eco-friendly methods.
The stringent requirements reflect the growing stature ofthe competition as a platform for global talent to come together to devisepractical solutions to agricultural challenges and promote internationalcooperation, according to Dr.Thomas Hansen, the Danish Attaché forHigher Education, Science and Innovation to China.
Pinduoduo, the largest agricultural platform in China,initiated the annual contest to gather the top minds in information technologyand agronomy to create cost-effective one-click planting solutions forsmallholder farmers. In the inaugural competition that took last year,technology teams produced 196% more strawberries on average when compared totraditional growers, an affirmation of the potential for agtech to increaseproductivity for farmers.
This year, a team from the University of Southern Denmarktook part in the competition, which is an opportunity for the Danishagricultural community to learn more about China and contribute to itsagricultural modernization drive, according to Dr. Hansen.
"This competition is really about unleashing ideas andpotentials that can help solve major problems, and great ideas and solutionsare not worth much if they're just staying in the heads of people," saidDr. Hansen, who is a member of the competition judging panel. "Thiscompetition has the potential for bringing some of these ideas into practicaluse."
China is stepping up efforts for agricultural modernizationby helping farmers to improve production in a sustainable and environmentallyfriendly manner through the use of smart farming technology, while increasingdemand for their products by digitally connecting them to a wider pool ofconsumers.
Dr. Hansen said that Denmark, with a population of 5.8million, can produce enough food for 15 million people thanks to factorsincluding well-educated farmers, a strong tradition for public-privateuniversity partnerships, and well-established cooperatives that own some of thecountry's best food brands. Its food sector has set out an ambitious vision tobecome climate neutral by 2050 with the same level of food production orhigher.
Given China also faces similar challenges in reducingemissions from agriculture while boosting productivity and sustainability,there are opportunities for the two countries to collaborate and share theirexperiences, he said.
"We already have a range of technologies that are inpractice," he said. "It would be very interesting to see them rolledout in China, because this will reduce the cost of the technologies and makethem more widely available across the world, as what we're dealing with here isa global issue."
Since November 2020, Pinduoduo and the Royal DanishConsulate General (The Trade Council) have collaborated to bring more Danishfood and agricultural products to Chinese consumers. The collaboration hasextended into other projects in the area of agriculture and most recently theSmart Agriculture Competition.
“The collaboration in the field ofagriculture is a natural extension of our commercial BTC collaboration withPinduoduo. It allows us to create large-scale opportunities for Danish startupand established agri technology in China,” said Jesper Halle, CommercialConsul, Royal Danish Consulate General in Shanghai.
Founded in2015, Pinduoduo is unique among major consumer internet companies in China inmaking agriculture a strategic focus. To date, the company has connected morethan 16 million farmers to its 850 million users, helping agricultural growersto widen their market and consumers to get fresher and lower-cost produce.
Pinduoduo hasbeen promoting the use of agricultural technology to boost productivity andenvironmental sustainability through a series of initiatives.
Last month, Pinduoduo announced the launchof a “10 Billion Agriculture Initiative” to galvanize the development andadoption of agricultural technology and reward agricultural sector workers.
“Agriculture is the foundation of the development of human society andthe nexus of social welfare, security, health and environment sustainability,said Andre Zhu, Senior Vice President at Pinduoduo, “As China’s largestplatform for agriculture, we want to groom more young talent to supportagricultural modernization and help better the livelihoods of farmers whileserving the interests of our users at the same time.”