Fresh and Affordable "Flowers, Rice and Vegetables" - Yunnan Province Secrets | Prof. HUANG Liqiang

Although 9 out of 10 people would likely mention "flowers" when asked what comes to mind about Yunnan, it is important to note that Yunnan also produces unique products such as fragrant rice brands like "Daiwangdao" and "Daijiahe", as well as plateau characteristic vegetables that are consumed daily in Guangdong-Hong Kong-Macao Greater Bay Area, which likely originate from Yunnan.

As a province integrating almost all kinds of climates ranging from tropical Hainan to frigid Heilongjiang, Yunnan has unique advantages in light, water sources and species for agricultural development.

A merchant who purchases flowers in Dounan Night Market. (Source: Hu Anqi/Photo)

On April 8th, farmers in Qinglai Village, Pengpu Town, Mile City, Yunnan Province, harvesting vegetables at the soilless vegetable planting base. Source: Xinhua News Agency Reporter Yang Zongyou/Photo

Why do Yunnan’s "flowers, rice, and vegetables" still fail to cover the whole country on a large scale today? Why is it challenging for people to buy cheap and fresh Yunnan agricultural products?

The development of modern agriculture in Yunnan has been hindered by the fundamental problem of "small and scattered" agriculture. However, steps are being taken to address this issue. In April 2022, Professor HUANG Liqiang from the School of Management at Zhejiang University, who has extensive experience in industrial digitalization, digital industrialization, and platform ecology, led a team to install a "digital brain" for the development of the modern agricultural industry of Yunnan Yuntianhua Group.

A team led by Professor HUANG Liqiang (4th from left) paid a visit to Yuntianhua Group for investigation (only some team members in the photo)

To address the challenges of "small and scattered" agriculture and the difficult management of farmers in Yunnan, the team led by Professor HUANG Liqiang provided Yuntianhua Group with an industrial digital optimization strategy that encompassed top-level design, digital means, and a digital mindset. As a result, this strategy has produced initial positive outcomes. This issue of the "Results" series by ZJUSOM focuses on how Professor HUANG’s team facilitated the digital transformation of the modern agricultural industry of Yuntianhua Group, which in turn helps Yunnan achieve maximum value from its agricultural land and produce high-quality, high-output, and intelligent agricultural products.

Yuntianhua Digital Farm Planting Cockpit (Source: Respondent)

Why did Yuntianhua Group in Yunnan hire HUANG Liqiang’s team to design a digital brain?

The "small and scattered" problem in Yunnan’s agriculture can result in various issues, including problems in farmer management, asymmetric information between the supply and demand sides, and industrial chain breaks. As a result, there is a low utilization rate of land resources and a low level of overall agricultural industrialization. This situation also makes it difficult for people to buy cheap and fresh Yunnan agricultural products. Farmers face high costs due to small-scale planting, and the selling price is consequently high. There are also intermediaries who pocket the "price difference" along the supply chain. The fragile supply chain is difficult to maintain, which further contributes to agricultural products becoming expensive and stale by the time they reach consumers.

On the other hand, it is difficult for small farmers or cooperatives to undertake bulk orders because of these diverse and divergent issues. Due to the lack of centralized management, small and scattered planting cannot meet the requirements of bulk orders in terms of quantity, quality, and maturity date.

A team led by Professor HUANG Liqiang paid a visit to Yuntianhua Group’s base for investigation (only some team members in the photo)

In May 2021, Professor HUANG Liqiang and his team collaborated with Yuntianhua Group in the Project of Top-level Design Scheme of Yuntianhua Modern Agricultural Digital System to accelerate the modernization of agriculture and rural areas and achieve common prosperity. The project aimed to explore the utilization of digital reform to lay out modern agriculture and provide strategies for Yuntianhua Group to solve the problem of "digital brain" construction. The focus was on top-level design from a digital perspective, with the goal of creating a modern agricultural digital system that would optimize Yuntianhua Group’s operations.

A team led by Professor HUANG Liqiang (4th from right) paid a visit to Yunnan Mine for investigation (only some team members in the photo)

The Top-Level Design of "Six Digital in One" Helps Yuntianhua Group Break Through the Bottleneck

After going to Yunnan to conduct in-depth research on local farmers, agricultural land and the digital development status of Yuntianhua Group, the team led by Professor HUANG Liqiang put forward the strategy of shifting strategic objectives to "digital strategy", including coordinating the design of modern agricultural digital strategy system; building a demonstration benchmark for modern agricultural standardized production and operation; forming a "six digitals in one" digital intelligent agricultural ecological solution.

So, what is "six digitals in one"?

As shown in the following figure, the "six digitals" refers to digital innovation, digital intelligence, digital communication, digital aggregation, digital infrastructure, and digital governance. This strategy is based on digital intelligent agricultural ecology, which is formed by integrated data reconstruction, driving and digital twin, operation management and strategic planning decision-making, data middle-ground and business middle-ground, internal and external data aggregation, hardware infrastructure and various data management.

Overall Framework of "Six Digital in One"

Professor HUANG Liqiang and his team believe that a digital transformation should be based on novel intuitions which is directly related to the final landing form and effect of digital transformation and is the key to digital transformation.

The team led by Professor HUANG Liqiang suggests that in order to construct the "six digitals in one" for Yuntianhua Group, it is important to consider both the digital means and digital mind perspectives. They propose that the architecture process should involve inheriting the fine traditions of the existing system and establishing new ones, so that a new business system based on middle-ground architecture can be gradually formed through migration and business interconnection.

To achieve this, the team suggests conducting middle-ground construction that gradually changes the existing platform built on traditional project mode into a new business system based on middle-ground architecture. This approach can fully leverage the value of data circulation and empower Yuntianhua Group’s business line, operation, internal management, logistics and other business construction. In summary, the team’s suggestions aim to enable Yuntianhua Group to adopt digital means and digital minds in their modern agricultural industry and ultimately achieve a high-quality, high-output, and intelligent agricultural product.

Architectural idea of "inheriting fine traditions and establishing the new"

The Results Have Been Put into Use for Just a Few Months, and Yuntianhua Group Reflects That "Effects Have Been Achieved"

Yuntianhua Group has achieved significant results through the implementation of the "six digitals in one" architecture and the related project. The digitization of various business processes has helped the company achieve standardized and process-based management, improving overall management efficiency. The integration of digital financial management has further enhanced this efficiency. The company has also established a Yuntianhua agricultural cockpit that can meet external display and publicity needs, which has helped in implementing an external business model framework.

Moreover, the company has achieved full coverage application of "Yunmi, Yunhua, and Yuncai" and implemented several sets of system applications under each section. The system has accumulated more than 10 million pieces of data, and the company has obtained 23 software copyrights since 2021. These achievements demonstrate the effectiveness of the digital transformation strategy and the "six digitals in one" architecture proposed by the team led by Professor HUANG Liqiang.

Source: From company’s publicity materials

They Continue to Promote Agricultural Modernization and Common Prosperity

The project led by Professor HUANG Liqiang in cooperation with Yuntianhua Group has made significant contributions to the modernization of agriculture and rural areas in China. It not only solves practical problems of digital transformation for entrepreneurs but also benefits local farmers in Yunnan, enabling them to access convenient digital services and improve their efficiency and quality while reducing costs of planting and transportation, but also promotes high-output, ecological, safe, and efficient modern agriculture in Yunnan, resulting in consumers being able to buy cheap, fresh, and high-quality agricultural products from the region. By accelerating the modernization of agriculture, this project has the potential to lay the foundation for China’s transformation from a big agricultural country to a powerful agricultural country, which is essential for the country’s overall modernization.

Source: Website of Yuntianhua Group

At the same time, the project simultaneously conducts digital management strategies for plateau characteristic agriculture in Yunnan. These strategies include planting plateau characteristic crops in abandoned phosphate rock excavation sites (without soil), eliminating planting costs, and improving local environment by reducing damage caused by phosphate rock excavation.

Source: Xinhua News Agency Reporter Yang Zongyou/Photo

- We are proud of Prof. HUANG Liqiang and his team’s achievements, and we are looking forward to digitalization further increasing agriculture’s productivity in China.

- You can read the original article in Chinese  here