Chinese tech companies get into farming

THE SLEEK offices of NetEase in Hangzhou, a traffic-clogged city in eastern China, seem an unlikely place to find a farmer. Yet the video-gaming company also runs a pig-rearing division. Ni Jinde launched Weiyang, its swine affiliate, almost a decade ago, after a stint in its financial team. At a state-of-the-art farm in nearby Anji county, Mr Ni oversees the rearing and slaughter of 20,000 organic free-range hogs a year, with the aid of tracking sensors, big-data analysis and soothing music. A second farm, to open in December, will raise another 150,000.

NetEase has become part of a gigantic agricultural venture. China’s 430m porkers account for over half of the world’s herd, and its $1trn industry produces more pork than any other country. Yet pig-rearing remains remarkably inefficient. It has long been a family affair: nine in ten of an estimated 40m pig farmers are thought to raise fewer than 50 hogs a year. Only...



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