You may not have thought that not long ago, Microsoft founder Bill Gates transformed himself into the largest farmer in the United States. According to a survey, almost all of the French fries and onions that Americans eat every day can be traced back to his farm.
Not only Bill Gates, but Amazon founder Bezos also quietly holds 420,000 acres of arable land and uncultivated land. Buffett’s son has been buying arable land around the world in recent years and running farms.
This isn’t a metaphor, it’s a clear indication that agriculture is at the heart of the next wave of opportunities for tech companies.
Throughout 2021, according to data from 35 Dou, there will be 52 investment and financing events in the agricultural technology industry, and by 2022, in the first seven months alone, there will be 341 investment and financing events. Under the cold capital winter, the agricultural track has sprung up.
A big background is that the economy is moving forward, but more and more people are starving around the world. In China, most people may not feel it, but the food crisis is looming over the world, and it is also approaching us. According to the Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations, the number of hungry people in the world will reach 828 million in 2021, an increase of 46 million from 2020. Some 2.3 billion people worldwide are experiencing moderate or severe food insecurity.
In addition, with the reduction of the agricultural population, the digitization and intelligence of agriculture have also become a rigid need that the country attaches great importance to. According to statistics, in the past five years, the government’s guiding funds and social capital have injected 112.3 billion yuan into agricultural development.
Crisis is also an opportunity. Since 2018, the Central Committee of the Communist Party of China and the State Council have issued the “Strategic Plan for Rural Revitalization (2018-2022)”, and since then, the construction trend of rural revitalization has started in various places.
Under the incentive and inspiration of policies, the digitalization of agriculture has also become an incremental market that technology companies cannot bypass. It can be seen that technology giants such as Pinduoduo, Tencent, Huawei, and Alibaba have already invested heavily in agriculture. After the release of the second quarter financial report of this year, Chen Lei, chairman and CEO of Pinduoduo, once again emphasized the need to base itself on agriculture and use digital advantages to “die” for agriculture.
01 The future of agriculture is actually a high-tech industry
The future of agriculture will definitely be beyond the imagination of many people. It will not be what we are familiar with, and even the “sense of technology” may be completely unrecognizable.
For example, the “2022 Bright Duoduo Vertical Agriculture Challenge” jointly launched by Pinduoduo, Guangming Homeport, China Agricultural University and Zhejiang University this year requires participating teams to set and adjust light and temperature in containers without soil and sunlight. , moisture, fertilizer and gas and other parameters to grow lettuce with high quality, high yield, lower energy consumption and faster growth.
In the first two years, they organized teams to remotely control the farm through algorithms to grow strawberries and tomatoes. This scene, which sounds a bit cyberpunk, has actually stepped out of the game and entered the stage of commercial application.
In this regard, the United States tried earlier. For example, FarmLogs, a cloud-based production management company founded in Silicon Valley in 2011, allows farmers to remotely manage their farms through an app, covering 15% of the farms in the United States as early as 2014. .
In fact, the United States is a world leader in the application of technologies such as the Internet of Things and AI to agriculture. The investment of technology companies has driven the development of the entire agricultural industry chain. And this is the effect brought about by the consumer Internet in the United States entering the industrial Internet.
According to the analysis of “Oriental Urban and Rural Daily”, through the use of the Internet of Things and big data, American agriculture has realized data sharing and intelligent decision-making in the whole life cycle and production process of agricultural products.
For example, through technology, it is possible to monitor the soil properties and light intensity, air temperature and humidity, carbon dioxide concentration and other growth indicators in real time during the growth of crops, and then cooperate with satellite systems and infrared imaging systems to judge the growth of crops, making decision-making smart, efficient and worry-free .
In addition, in addition to the upgrade of the production end, the reform of the distribution and sales segment is another core pillar of the development of American agriculture.
Since the farm has been connected to the Internet very early, this has also driven the development of its agricultural e-commerce, and e-commerce innovations have emerged one after another. For example, as early as 2011, a fresh food e-commerce company named Farmigo was born, which allows users to directly buy their favorite vegetables and fruits from different farms, which reduces the waste of intermediate circulation link costs, so it is cheaper.
Source: Farmigo official website
It is precisely because of the use of e-commerce that the business of American farmers has further expanded to the world. The success of smart agriculture in the United States can probably be attributed to, on the one hand, heavy investment in technology, and on the other hand, rapid commercialization.
Turning your attention back to China, my country’s smart agriculture started relatively late, and the concept of “smart agriculture” has only appeared in the public eye since 2012.
Chinese agriculture cannot only rely on large-scale production with low labor costs. The sign of a strong agriculture is that there are a large number of excellent technology companies.
02 The commercialization of agricultural science and technology should be done well
Ren Zhengfei, the founder of Huawei, once said, “It’s not enough to throw money at it. We want to throw money at scientists. We want scientists to become stars, and we want scientists to walk the red carpet.”
In addition to the exploration of basic frontiers and the research of core technologies, it is more important to return to industrial practice and let the technology land. This is also a “stubborn disease” in the transformation of China’s scientific and technological achievements in the past.
In the traditional agricultural research model, most products stayed in the laboratory and became “bonsai”. And technology companies and e-commerce platforms are bringing some new ideas to agriculture, such as rewriting the path from the laboratory to the dining table. In the latest “Duoduo Agricultural Research Technology Competition”, the requirements of the competition are not only “planting more” and “growing well”, but also “low energy consumption, short time consumption”, and “easy promotion”—— This is a very pragmatic and “less detour” requirement.
On the one hand, with the improvement of the consumption level of the Chinese people, the consumption of meat, eggs and milk has greatly increased, which has promoted the growth of the market, which is why a lot of investment is tilted towards agriculture. On the other hand, people’s demand for high-quality agricultural products brands is more and more urgent. At present, there are various types of agricultural products, but the quality of the products is uneven. Therefore, the brand operation of agricultural products has also become a key step for Pinduoduo to deploy smart agriculture.
Pinduoduo helps high-quality agricultural products enhance their market competitiveness through measures such as inclination of traffic resources and tens of billions of subsidies. It also combines local characteristics, geographical environment, and human resources to dig deep into the “connotation” of agricultural products to create exclusive brand images for agricultural products, while building brand promotion. and marketing planning system to improve the market awareness of high-quality agricultural products brands.
This part of the work is precisely what young people admire. According to the “2021 New and New Farmers Growth Report” released by Pinduoduo, the “new and new farmers” represented by the post-95s have become a new force to promote the upward trend of agricultural products. As of October 2021, the number of “Xinxinnongren” on the platform has exceeded 126,000, accounting for more than 13% of agriculture-related merchants.
In addition, from the data point of view, 80% of the participants of the “Duoduo Agricultural Research Technology Competition” are born in the 1990s. Pinduoduo empowers agriculture through patent research and development, and cooperates with world-class agricultural colleges to provide tailor-made courses and training for these young agricultural talents, and use science and technology competitions as a carrier to inspire more and more young farmers Research workers are emerging.
In Chen Lei’s view, technology and talents are the keys to advancing the modernization of agriculture and rural areas. And agricultural technology competitions and agricultural product branding are driving more young people to return to agriculture.
Today, with the investment and emphasis of the country and the government on agriculture, it is foreseeable that more and more technology companies will invest in agriculture. External favorable policies, technology, capital, talents and other industrial factors are flowing to the agricultural industry, and the leap-forward development of China’s agriculture may not be far away.
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