On 25 April, the DCZ team participated in the Sino-German Entrepreneurs Forum on Smart Agriculture organized by DCZ partner FECC (Foreign Economic Cooperation Center of the Ministry of Agriculture and Rural Affairs in China) and the German Agricultural Society (DLG). The forum was part of the World Expo on Digital Agriculture (WEDA), which took place from 25-27 April in Weifang city, Shandong province. Bringing together companies, practitioners, and policymakers from China and countries from Europe, the Americas, the Middle East, as well as Central and Southeast Asia, the three-day event underscored the importance of digital tools and smart technologies as key drivers in the transformation of China’s agriculture and food sector.
The Forum kicked off with welcome speeches by WANG Xiaobing, Director General of the Information Center of the Chinese Ministry of Agriculture and Rural Affairs (MARA), and Friederike Dörfler, Agricultural Counsellor at the German embassy in Beijing. Mr. Wang highlighted the common challenges faced by the agricultural sector in China and Germany as well as the potential benefits from strengthening Sino-German cooperation on digital agriculture. Regular institutional exchanges, joint research on smart agricultural machinery, sensors, robots, and algorithms, as well as the setup of smart agriculture demonstration farms were mentioned as key areas in which China would like to deepen its cooperation with Germany, Mr. Wang pointed out (read full speech). In her opening remarks, Ms. Dörfler reflected on the potential of digital tools to balance food security and environmental goals. “Smart agriculture can help solve the most pressing conflict we are facing right now: how to use our agricultural resources without using them up”, the Agricultural Counsellor emphasized (read full speech or watch video).
Jürgen Ritter, German Managing Director of the DCZ, presented the audience with a vivid account of how digitalization is transforming the face of farming in Germany, drawing on interviews with German practitioners, scientists, and policymakers conducted by the DCZ team during a “virtual study tour” on digitalization in 2020. Although digitalization is sometimes viewed as a panacea for the current challenges in agriculture, its outcomes depend on how digital tools will be applied and for which purposes, Mr. Ritter reminded the audience.
The opening speeches were followed by keynote presentations from ZHAO Chunjiang, Academician of the Chinese Academy of Engineering (CAE), WANG Song, Deputy Director General at the Big Data Development Center of MARA, and DCZ policy expert Michaela Boehme. In the final Entrepreneurs’ Dialogue, representatives from leading Chinese and international companies, including CLAAS, Bayer, Poettinger, as well as Chinese CITIC Group and Optima presented smart agriculture innovations along the entire agricultural value chain – from investment, to agricultural machinery, to consumer engagement.
The Forum was attended by some 150 people on site and broadcast live via Zoom and other Chinese streaming platforms.