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Shoppers can watch their melons grow

Food & Drink

Chinese farm has installed surveillance cameras and is offering its customers the chance to preorder honey melons and watch them grow online.

In the current digital age, every so often we see technology step up to meet the challenges faced by sustainable agriculture. A New Zealand based software provider designed to support small scale organic farmers distribute their produce to customers. And this vertical farm in Singapore that is the world’s first low-water and low-energy urban food production space. Offering a very different solution is Naomaohu Lake Farm in China which gave over 1,000 customers the opportunity to buy melons at the beginning of the growing season in May, watch them grow and have them delivered ready to eat in September.

Customers of the honey melon farm in Xinjiang Uygur Autonomous Region could order melons before they are even planted. Shoppers were given a unique code corresponding to ‘their’ honey melon which, when entered online, enabled them to follow the growth of each melon from planting and fertilizing to harvesting, via surveillance cameras installed on the farm. Melons were priced at CNY 68 (USD 10) for a two to three kilo melon, not including delivery. The idea feeds into China’s thriving e-commerce landscape and caters for the increasing attention paid towards food quality by Chinese consumers. The farm uses manure and biological pest control to ensure melon quality. Gao Pengfei, a farm manager in charge of the camera surveillance, said “By watching (for) themselves, netizens are assured the process is green.”

The approach offers two major benefits. Firstly, it brings more profit to the farm since the unit price is five times the traditional wholesale price. Secondly, it curbs waste. The melons are pre-ordered, preventing the need for crops to be harvested prematurely and sit on supermarket shelves only to be trashed if no one buys them.

Similar online orders are becoming popular on Taobao.com, where other farms offer produce depending on customer request. Could this approach be used in other areas of commerce?

Website: www.world.taobao.com/item/529549188041.htm?spm=a312a.7728556.2014080708.7.Tb9Jxn

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