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Data collection on the use of digital technologies in Chinese agriculture

18 September 2023

The DITAC project team has accomplished a fruitful two-week field mission in Hubei, China, from August 5th to August 18th, 2023. Together with Chinese partner, Huazhong Agricultural University (HZAU), and local enumerators, IAMO researchers, Hua Zhang, Juzhe Hu, Dr. Lena Kuhn and Dr. Zhanli Sun interviewed over 400 farmers and stakeholders from two rice-growing counties on the adoption and impacts of digitalization technologies.
Within the framework of DITAC, a BMBF-funded research project, the overarching goal of this field trip was to gain a comprehensive understanding of the adoption, application, and impacts of digital technologies in Chinese agriculture. Furthermore, the excursion focused on providing a systematic view of the digital transformation process, offering insights from China’s agricultural development perspective. Primarily the field trip centered on digital technology adoption and internet-based information utilization among paddy rice farmers in central China.

The team collected farm-level data in two counties in Hubei province following a stratified random sampling strategy. Approximately 400 farmers were interviewed with questionnaires and discrete choice cards with particular emphasis on farmers’ adoption of digitalization technologies, notably agricultural unmanned aerial vehicles (UAVs). In addition to the quantitative data collection, qualitative focus group discussions with various stakeholders were conducted, including farmers, village council members, and agricultural cooperatives. These interactions aimed to delve deeper into the practical aspects of Internet information adoption within the agricultural context.

Two doctoral researchers, Hua Zhang and Junzhe Hu, were instrumental in conducting choice experiments and facilitating the enlightening focus group discussions. Besides the data collected, the team also gained invaluable first-hand impression of Chinese agricultural and rural development.