(Yicai Global) June 8 -- Alibaba Group Holding's cloud unit has released a new service to help Chinese farmers rear pigs to produce better quality pork, China's most popular meat.
The ET Agricultural Brain uses visual and voice recognition and real-time environmental monitoring to track hogs' daily activity, growth and other health conditions, Alibaba Cloud said in a statement yesterday. It unveiled the platform the same day at the Computing Conference 2018: Shanghai Summit.
The system can devise activity plans for pigs that need to improve their health, and could see sows birth three more piglets a year, the statement added. It could also cut unnatural deaths by 3 percent, improve food safety and reduce prices for consumers.
"China is the world's largest supplier, consumer and importer of pork," Wang Degen, chairman of pig farmer Tequ Group, said at the conference. "Alibaba Cloud's ET Agricultural Brain brings a new level of interactive automation to pig farming… At Tequ Group, our business target is to breed 10 million pigs by 2020 -- a scale that no ordinary automation system could cope with, let alone a human system."
Alibaba partnered Tequ and another Sichuan-based farming firm, Dekon Group, in February, pledging to pump hundreds of millions of yuan into developing artificial intelligence for pig rearing. Swine at Tequ farms are implanted with chips at birth to log their age, weight and other data, while cameras track how much exercise they do, saving farmers from manually recording such information.
"Kilometers [run] will be the new criteria for evaluating the quality of pork," state-backed news site The Paper quoted Alibaba Cloud's president Simon Hu (Hu Xiaoming) as saying at the conference. "In the future, what we'll want is a pig that has run 200 kilometers, rather than one that weighs 200 catties (100 kilograms)."
The firm hopes to digitize agricultural data, set up a full life-cycle management system, build apps to manage farming and create a tracking system that follows agricultural produce from the fields to the plate, Hu added.
Editor: James Boynton