Bayer partners with Chinese firms to develop sustainable farming

German pharmaceutical and life sciences company Bayer AG is teaming up with Chinese partners to develop sustainable agriculture via advanced technologies, aiming to deliver higher-quality food to consumers at affordable prices.

Bayer launched the Sustainable Farming Program in Beijing in June, together with drone company XAG and e-commerce giant Alibaba Group Holding Ltd's Rural Taobao initiative.

Over the next three years, the initiative aims to develop and promote sustainable farming standards all over the world through a series of farm management solutions.

Mathias Kremer, head of Strategy and Portfolio Management at Bayer CropScience, said at the launch ceremony that although challenges lie ahead, the opportunities within agriculture are very inspiring.

Innovations provide novel means to break bottlenecks, and make it possible to meet the elevated need for food, while being mindful of environmental footprints, thus striving for sustainable growth for human kind, Kremer said.

Bayer is on its way to becoming the world leader in seeds and agrochemicals-on June 7, it closed a 63 billion U.S. dollars acquisition of United States agribusiness giant Monsanto.

"With this deal, our customized agronomic solutions will be comprehensive, covering seeds, seed treatment and crop protection, which will be optimized by digitalization, so using fewer products in a far more directed way," Kremer said.

"In the future, the farmers only need to sow and harvest. We can help them with the rest. So they will not buy products, but pay for the outcomes without any pests or diseases in their crops," he said.

The Sustainable Farming Program helps farmers to pick up the latest farming innovations and makes agricultural production smarter and more environmentally friendly. It aims to preserve the environment while pursuing the maximum productivity, to achieve green, sustainable agriculture, Bayer said.

"Food safety, health, environmental preservation and sustainability are relevant to everyone in the world," said Huang Weidong, China head at Bayer CropScience. "Through SFP, we will help growers to further optimize agronomic practices, promote sustainability, and ultimately benefit consumers and the next generation."

The program's major mission is to build trust between food producers and their customers, according to Bayer. It will promote products that are safe because farm management will follow strict standards and customers can trace the whole process.

Tan Chongjun, deputy dean of AliResearch Institute at Alibaba Group, said Bayer and XAG can provide guidance and guarantee safe and qualified agricultural practices. Alibaba Rural Taobao, as a core participant in the downstream agricultural industry, will deliver high-quality food to customers, optimize the selection of agricultural products and reduce circulation costs.

Justin Gong, cofounder and vice-president of XAG, said: "We collect data from agricultural practices, analyze and apply it under precision plant protection to make the production process quantifiable and traceable. Avoiding the abuse of pesticides and fertilizers is essential to food safety."