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China’s First Hackathon for “Innovative Application for Agricultural Open Data”

China’s First Hackathon for “Innovative Application for Agricultural Open Data”Adapting to the trend of open data, promoting agricultural data sharing and application - those are a few of the problems that six teams aimed to tackle at a Hackathon during November 18th to 20th 2014 in the Agricultural Information Institute (AII) of the Chinese Academy of Agricultural Sciences (CAAS). The event, sponsored by GFARCIARD and FAO, was co-hosted by YPARD Asia.

It was the first time China hosted a Hackathon for agricultural open data. The event represented a great platform for Chinese young professionals not only to follow the world trend and show their competence, but also to promote cooperation in information management between all the international organizations in the agricultural field.

Open data´s potential

In this competition, talents of agriculture studies, information management and software development worked together, utilizing open databases home and abroad to develop their products which associate and integrate all kinds of open data. They tapped the potential for open data, innovated the application model, and promoted data integration and sharing.

The panel of judges included: Dr. Ajit Maru, GFAR senior officer; Prof. Wang Jingguang, dean of the School of Information of the Central University of Finance and Economics (CUFE); Dr. Liu Jifang, AII Party secretary; Dr. Meng Xianxue, AII deputy director; and Dr. Zhang Xuefu, director of Knowledge Engineering Group.

The finalists were six groups of seventeen seasoned programmers and agriculture researchers. They were from CUFE, China Agricultural University (CAU), Beijing Information Science and Technology University (BISTU), Huzhou University, CAAS and Nogetek Co.,Ltd. Their final presentations showcased their innovative design and cutting-edge technology and won a round of applause.

E-farmers: An innovative app on the vegetable industry chain

After judges’ heated discussion and debate, the three-day Hackathon concluded with “E-farmers” as winner. The team members are Guo Leifeng, Ph.D. student at AII CAAS, Liu Jianguang, app developer of fang.com, and Shen Yulin, graduate student at BISTU. The three developed an app which associated and integrated open data on the vegetable industry chain. Using this app, farmers can easily get access to information which includes recommendation of vegetable variety, agricultural resources, planting, price and sales, etc.

Based on the agricultural value chain theory and information flow, “E-farmers” set up the model of information flow convergence. They first applied open data into the whole vegetable industry chain including production, processing, delivery, storage and retail. They also planned to promote this user-friendly app amongst farmers. The winner won 3,000 RMB prize and the opportunity to be sponsored to join the next open data event that will be held in February 2015 at Wageningen University in the Netherlands.

Translating innovative ideas into reality

Dr. Ajit Maru delivered the closing speech, congratulating all the participants for their superb performance as well as for the success of the Hackathon, considering the different issues faced by the competitors. He provided both participants and researchers with two advices. First, setting the standard is of highly importance in data service and sharing. Second, pooling the talent of IT professionals and agricultural researchers can better translate the innovative ideas into reality.

Dr. Meng Xianxue expressed his thanks to GFAR for supporting the event and encouraged Chinese young professionals to take this Hackathon as an opportunity to "shine on the international stage."

Picture credit: JIaqi Huang