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Sino-German Agribusiness Conference 2021

10 June 2021 - The Agribusiness Conference on “Approaches to Sustainable and Modern Agriculture” was held from 2 to 3 June 2021 in Nanjing, China.

The hybrid event served as a platform to facilitate exchange of experiences and lessons on topics addressed by the Sino-German Agricultural Centre (DCZ) between German and Chinese companies and business associations as well as with political decision-makers and researchers. Looking back on the conference, it can be said that agricultural digitisation is an important path to achieve sustainable development. Only with the cooperative efforts of the government, enterprises and scientific researcher can agricultural digitization be widely promoted and practically realized.

Within the panel discussion entitled “Modernisation of Crop Farming” on 3 June 2021, IAMO researcher Yanjun Ren explained the following aspects:

How do you think digitalization can play a role in food loss and waste, further to reduce resource waste and achieve high-quality sustainable development?

Digitization plays an important role in food production, storage, transportation, retail and consumption. Since my research focus mainly on consumer behavior, I use the role of digitalization in food retail and household food waste as an example. First of all, in terms of food retail, online shopping platform has changed the traditional B-to-C retail mode, enabling consumers to directly connect with producers and reducing the waste caused by storage and transportation in the intermediate supply chain, especially for fresh food.

Second, in terms of household food storage, a variety of refrigerators in China and Germany and other countries have launched intelligent food management functions. Through multiple platforms connection, the refrigerator can adjust the temperature according to the properties of the foods, and reminding consumers of the best-before-data of the food and the optimal diet management plan. To some extent, these practice as results of digitization can effectively reduce food waste.

How should we deal with food loss and waste from the perspective of economics?

Thanks to the technology development, food is no longer scarce, but resources are still. Studying food waste can hardly look at wasted food alone, because food is a collection of products and services along food supply chain. As well as reducing food waste, we should also consider the cost for reducing food waste. Therefore, compared to reducing the quantity of food loss and waste, studying food waste from the perspective of improving the efficiency of resource utilization is more profound to promote sustainable agricultural development. In addition, food loss and waste occur throughout the food value chain. To tackle this problem, we need to tackle the main aspects of the problem first. For example, food waste in developing countries is mainly concentrated in the loss at the production stage, so improving production technology and storage facilities would save more food loss than other stages. In developed countries, food waste occurs more in the consumption stage, so how to guide and regulate consumer behavior is more important. Therefore, under the given resources endowments, how to improve the efficiency of resource utilization is the most important guarantee to achieve the sustainable development of agriculture.

Use one sentence or word to summarize the role of intelligentization and digitization.

Intelligentization and digitization is an important approach to improve the efficiency of resource use through the modern technology.