In­no­va­tors un­able to drum up sup­port

China Daily (Hong Kong) - - CHINA - By HU YONGQI

Shaanxi Guard Agri­cul­ture Tech­nol­ogy Ltd was founded in Oc­to­ber to pro­duce drones that can de­tect pests in fields. How­ever, like many small star­tups, the com­pany is strug­gling to find in­vestors.

The com­pany has pro­duced pro­to­type drones that pho­to­graph crops such as grapes and kiwi fruits to de­tect pests, thereby help­ing to im­prove yields and the qual­ity of pro­duce, but so far no one has of­fered the com­pany any fund­ing for the project. The drones are ex­pected to re­tail at about 10,000 yuan ($1,480) each.

In large farms, it’s dif­fi­cult to de­tect pests, but the com­pany’s ex­per­i­ments have in­di­cated that the drones, which use spec­trum pho­tog­ra­phy, can pro­vide more ac­cu­rate re­sults than tra­di­tional mon­i­tor­ing via re­mote sens­ing.

Once the pests have been iden­ti­fied, the drones are used to spray in­sec­ti­cides that will kill them.

“We have in­vented high­alti­tude spec­trum cam­eras; they are the core hard­ware for the drones. The drones are easy to op­er­ate, and we work with other agri­cul­tural com­pa­nies to pro­vide so­lu­tions and kill pests,” said Tuo Menglang, one of the com­pany’s man­agers.

Cur­rently, Shaanxi Guard is op­er­at­ing on cap­i­tal pro­vided by its three founders, who are con­tin­u­ing to search for in­vestors.

“The founders’ money is not sus­tain­able, and out­side fi­nanc­ing is the only way to keep the com­pany run­ning,” Tuo said. “But many in­vestors give us the cold shoul­der when they learn that we only em­ploy seven peo­ple.”

Su Baofeng, one of the founders and an as­so­ciate pro­fes­sor at the North­west Agri­cul­ture and Forestry Univer­sity in Shaanxi prov­ince, has vis­ited Ja­pan to learn about sim­i­lar drones.

At present, many farms are fam­ily-run con­cerns, but as con­sol­i­da­tion takes place in the sec­tor and farms grow in size, Su be­lieves the com­pany’s drones will be vi­tal to en­sur­ing greater pro­duc­tiv­ity.

“When large farms dom­i­nate the sec­tor, the mar­ket po­ten­tial for our drones will be enor­mous and they will be in great de­mand,” he said.

PHO­TOS PRO­VIDED TO CHINA DAILY

Em­ploy­ees of Xi’an Jin­hua Eco­log­i­cal Tech­nol­ogy Co take soil sam­ples in Fux­ian county, Shaanxi prov­ince.

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