Israeli technology to help China quantify crops

Chinese and Israeli partners signed an agreement on the second out of two phases of a computational agriculture pilot project.

July 31, 2012 01:04
3 minute read.
Israeli, Chinese officials

Israeli, Chinese officials. (photo credit: courtesy industry, trade, labor ministry)

Israeli technology will be used to computerize the agricultural system of one Chinese province, allowing government officials to quantify the exact amount of food produced within their jurisdiction.

Israeli and Chinese partners signed an agreement on the second out of two phases of a computational agriculture pilot project. The signing ceremony was carried out Sunday night in Tel Aviv with Chinese officials and the Israeli company Agricultural Knowledge Online (AKOL).

The first stage of the program will involve setting up control systems to survey plant agricultural products, and the second phase – approved during the ceremony – will allow for the monitoring of milk, poultry, pork and other animal products. This is the first time an Israeli company has been selected to be part of implementing a national Chinese government project, the Industry, Trade and Labor Ministry said.

Those attending the signing ceremony included members of a Chinese delegation, Israeli Agriculture and Industry as well as Trade and Labor Ministry representatives, designated ambassador to China Matan Vilnai and global representatives of IBM, a partner in AKOL’s “Agricultural Cloud” computing system.

They hope, according to the Industry, Trade and Labor Ministry, to bring more of agricultural “blue and white” technology to China, while enabling Chinese agriculturists to calculate and control the quantities of food produced in their country.

Israeli agriculture is considered one of the most advanced in the world, with farmers producing 50 tons of vegetables per acre, compared to abou 20 tons in the rest of the world, the ministry reported. Meanwhile, Israeli cows produce an average of 12,000 liters of milk annually, and those in most other developed countries generate only an approximate average of 6,000 tons.

This, the ministry explained, occurs in part through advanced computerized technology.

Implementation of the AKOL technology will allow the Chinese government on a national scale to be able to control and closely monitor all food being produced in China, the ministry said. After a Chinese government decision to launch a five-year national program for food monitoring, the government transferred budgets to individual provinces for pilot projects, to be completed by the end of 2012. The provinces then began to search for international civilian companies that have experience in advanced agricultural fields, according to the ministry.

On the Israeli side, in late 2009, AKOL – then its mother company Anat Kashev – turned to IBM global requesting a partner in building its cloud farming network, and by 2010, the two companies had begun developing a joint venture. In order to become part of the provincial pilot projects, AKOL began conducting massive deals with province heads, agriculture ministers and economic ministers, and the company also received funding from the Industry, Trade and Labor Ministry.

In June, the company signed a cooperation agreement with the Anhui province, defining AKOL, along with Israeli systems integrator BF AGRITECH LTD and Chinese company LONGCOM, as the operational arm in the province.

During a seminar in which the Israeli-led consortium presented its solution, Chinese government officials announced that by the end of the year, they wanted to implement a pilot of the computing technologies in all 13 agricultural zones of the province, the ministry said.

“Economically, this project has significant potential to increase Israeli exports to China and to strengthen government relations between the two countries,” said Noa Asher, head of the International Support and Finance Department in the Foreign Trade Administration of the Industry, Trade and Labor Ministry.

Asher stressed that the ministry was concentrating special efforts on helping Israeli companies penetrate the Chinese market.

“For over two decades, the State of Israel has maintained cooperation with China in agriculture,” said Agriculture Minister Orit Noked, emphasizing that Israel “recognizes the far-reaching changes that have occurred in China economically and no less importantly, socially.”

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