See how China is meeting its food needs with a hi-tech boost
“To see things in the seed, that is genius”
China’s Farming Challenge
Agriculture is a vital industry in China, employing over 300 million farmers. It ranks first in worldwide farm output, primarily producing rice, wheat, potatoes, peanuts, tea, cotton, and soy beans.
|To learn more about one of China’s most famous and far-reaching crops – tea – click here.|
Although China is such a large country geographically speaking, it has a severe shortage of arable land. In fact, less than 15% of the land is arable. Consider this in comparison with India at 50%, France at 32%, and the US at 20%.
Amazingly, while China accounts for only 10% of the world’s arable land, it nevertheless produces food for 20% of the world's population. This is due in part to Chinese ingenuity in developing and importing various methods that have enabled greater farming production and efficiency.
How Westernization Is Impacting Agriculture
Regardless of these efficiencies, however, China today is still facing major challenges – with depleting food supplies and with Chinese appetites becoming Westernized, in palate and in quantities. For example, with a large portion of the population entering the middle class, more people are now eating meat, which requires more grain.
Furthermore, China faces a double crunch as its population of 1.35 billion rises to an expected peak of 1.47 billion in 2030, which will require more than 650 million tons of rice, wheat, and corn annually.
Improved farming policies and technologies have given China a high level of self-sufficiency and growth. Yet, the country's top economic planning body has warned that this would be hard to maintain.
The question then, is how can China produce enough food for its growing population with its evolving dietary needs?
The Technology Solution
The answer lies in the Chinese government increasingly shifting its focus to reforming agriculture, with a focus on: market controls, improving farm efficiency, curbing land loss, and imports.
In each case, technology is a key player, where the nation is spending billions on water systems, seeds, robots and data science to develop sustainable, high-yield farms.
For example, for the first time, the government is subsidizing the use of agricultural drones in suitable pilot regions. Spraying with drones has now been adopted as part of a disease and pest control program, bringing efficiencies in crop protection application, water consumption, and cost.
|To see the Chinese drones in action click here.|
Another unique example comes from a high-tech indoor farm on the outskirts of Beijing, which is growing plants in a rotary light-tracking system inside a greenhouse to make its land productive again.
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