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China Session at IAMO Forum 2020

30 June 2020 - 29 June 2020 – IAMO China Research Group organized a panel session at the IAMO Forum 2020 to systematically discuss the digital transformation of Chinese agriculture from various perspectives. After the impulse talk by Dr Lena Kuhn, five distinguished scholars, Dr. Wenbin Wu, Prof. Hang Xiong, Prof. Dr. Xiaohua Yu, Prof. Dr. Oane Visser, and Dr. Eva Sternfeld shared their research and opinions on the digitalization development. The session was moderated by Dr Zhanli Sun, and concluded with a summary from Prof. Dr. Thomas Herzfeld.

The lead topic of this year’s IAMO Forum was “Digital transformation – towards sustainable food value chains in Eurasia” and was held, due to the COVID-19 pandemic, as an online conference this year. Digital technologies are reshaping agricultural and food system across the world. China, as one of the largest transition economies, has embraced the digitalization technologies in the agricultural sector and regards the digitization as a promising innovation in overcoming the current socioeconomic and environmental challenges. Smart agriculture driven by remote sensing, ground sensors, internet-based services, robots, and machine learning has experienced rapid development in the past years.  However, many challenges remain: for example, the small-holder farming system may yet impede the adoption of digital technologies; inclusive development under the digital transformation cannot be taken for granted; data safety and privacy has not been receiving enough attention.

Against this backdrop, Dr Lena Kuhn and Dr Zhanli Sun organized a China session at IAMO Forum 2020 to systematically discuss the digital transformation of Chinese agriculture from various perspectives. With renowned researchers from various backgrounds as panellists, lively discussions ensued. Dr Lena Kuhn set the discussion stage with an impulse talk on the development history of the agriculture of China, especially after the rural reform, and the current situation and remaining unanswered questions during the digital transformation. After that, Dr. Wenbin Wu from Chinese Academy of Agricultural Sciences, Prof. Hang Xiong from Huazhong Agricultural University, Prof. Dr. Xiaohua Yu from University Göttingen, Prof. Dr. Oane Visser from Erasmus University Rotterdam, and Dr. Eva Sternfeld from Sino-German Agricultural Centre shared their researches from the technical challenges, the data issue, the uptake and impacts, the role of cultural background, and lessons and future researches. Prof. Dr. Thomas Herzfeld wrapped up the session with a brief summary of issues touched in this session and a glimpse on future research topics, such as the behavioural perspectives on the adoption of digital technologies.