Digitalization helps the floral industry in Yunnan thrive

By Shen Jingran, People’s Daily

Zhang Haibei, a flower farmer in Kaiyuan city, southwest China’s Yunnan province, lately equipped his flower greenhouse with smart devices.

“These are not light bulbs, but intelligent sensors. Now my greenhouse is a digital greenhouse,” said Zhang, holding one of the smart devices that look just like little lamps.

Since these intelligent sensors were installed in various corners of his greenhouse, he has been able to monitor in real-time the temperature, humidity, soil fertility, and other factors in the greenhouse through a mini-program on his mobile phone.

In May 2021, the national modern agricultural industrial park in Kaiyuan city put into operation a digital platform covering the entire flower industry chain, in a bid to help 10 flower growers who’ve been engaged in flower cultivation for a trial period, including Zhang, and 25 flower companies in the industrial park.

“The platform offers us precision planting formulas, which clearly specify how much water and light the flowers need. Thanks to the platform, the quality of my chrysanthemums have climbed from C-level to A-level, and my income has risen by over 40 percent,” Zhang said.

“The platform is able to monitor the environment of greenhouse in real-time and provide precision planting plans based on actual conditions. For flower companies engaged in large-scale production, the technology-empowered link can save nearly 400,000 yuan ($63,236) in labor costs per year,” said Chu Yuan, a technician at the industrial park.

The platform also provides flower farmers and companies with services concerning many other links of the flower industry chain, including research and development, sale, transportation, and after-sales service, Chu added.

In recent years, Kaiyuan city has vigorously implemented a “digital village” pilot project to promote the application of digital technologies in rural areas, under which it has continuously enhanced the role of digital technologies in its flower industry, extending the employment of relevant technologies from precision planting to comprehensive services covering the entire industry chain.

In January 2021, the national modern agricultural industrial park in Kaiyuan city was recognized as one of the third batches of the national-level modern agricultural industrial parks in China.

The application of digital technologies has made it possible to trace each link of the production and supply of every batch of flowers, including the source of seedlings and seeds, cultivation, management, post-harvest treatment, packaging, as well as storage and transportation, Chu pointed out.

The platform enables flower growers and companies to discover flawed flowers in time and locate related problems in the production and supply chains, thus preventing mold growth and enhancing product quality control, Chu added.

The platform also plays a part in after-sales service. Through a management system empowered by digital technologies, users of the platform are able to identify accurately and rectify the problems in production according to customers’ complaints, which makes up for the inadequacies in production management in the past which relied entirely on manual work.

So far, industrial data collected from the industrial park over the past nearly five years has been uploaded onto the platform.

Based on comprehensive analysis, the platform can regulate the planting ratios of flower varieties in different areas as well as their production time and yield more timely and flexibly and help realize flexible production, Chu said.

If a type of rose sells very well recently, the platform will calculate the difference between the time when different batches of flowers hit the market, estimate their sales, and then make suggestions to ensure that flowers reach the market at a proper time, said the Chu, who explained that in this way the platform helps flower growers and companies to make scientific decisions.

In the future, digital agriculture platforms will be integrated into such links as production, research and development, and sale of the industrial chain of many other industries so that industrial digitalization will be turned into a “golden key” to rural vitalization, said Ma Chao, head of Kaiyuan municipal agriculture and rural affairs bureau, who is full of expectations toward the future.

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