Pinduoduo Smart Agriculture Competition starts

Who grows better: farmers or algorithms?

The Netherlands is committed to sharing agricultural technology and supporting the development of sustainable horticulture in China. After all, the two countries have excellent ties and share similar ambitions and challenges, according to Wouter Verhey, agriculture counselor at the Dutch embassy in China.

Verhey gave a speech at the opening of the Smart Agriculture Competition co-organized by Pinduoduo, China Agricultural University, and Zhejiang University. In his view, the competition will stimulate innovation in the agricultural sector and move the industry forward. He also shared the experience of the Netherlands in promoting “circular agriculture,” which focuses on minimizing the impact on the environment by reducing the amounts of external inputs through reuse and recycling of materials.

 

“The Smart Agriculture Competition enhances the communication between professionals in the agricultural sector from both our countries,” said Verhey, who will serve as a judge in the competition. “By focusing on innovation in the smart and sustainable agriculture, we hope future agriculture will not only be able to feed mankind, but also benefit the environment of our planet.”

Deploying technology to improve sustainability is one of the key aims of the Smart Agriculture Competition, which is held with the technical support of the FAO and Wageningen University & Research. As China's largest agriculture platform, Pinduoduo has sought to stimulate innovation by gathering the top minds in technology and agronomy to develop sustainable growing solutions for this industry.

This year, global teams will be competing over six months to remotely grow tomatoes, using a combination of advanced algorithms and sensor technology. The objective is to derive the most efficient and environmentally sustainable techniques to grow tomatoes with a high yield and good quality. In last year’s inaugural competition, the four technology teams produced 196% more fruit by weight on average compared with experienced farmers.

Last month, Pinduoduo announced the launch of a “10 Billion Agriculture Initiative” to galvanize the development and adoption of agricultural technology and reward agricultural sector workers. The initiative will adopt a long-term focus on capacity building for technology and human capital for agriculture instead of focusing on profit and commercial returns.

“Agriculture is the foundation of the development of human society and the nexus of social welfare, security, health, and environmental sustainability, said Andre Zhu, Senior Vice President at Pinduoduo, “As China’s largest platform for agriculture, we want to contribute more to promote environmentally sustainable practices and invest in the agri-food system.”


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