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What Happened: China has a sizeable agricultural sector, where almost 40% of residents live in rural areas. China badly needs technological innovations in agriculture due to limited farmland, a shrinking rural workforce, and natural disasters.
Photographers snapped Ma personally visiting several research institutes in the Netherlands for a study tour of technology related to agriculture.
Ma is visiting research institutions in the Netherlands to further his interest in agriculture technology with his first overseas trip in more than a year.
Ma, who retired as Alibaba's chairman in 2019, is undertaking his study tour in his capacity. Photographers snapped Ma visiting several Dutch research institutions, where the technology of the BOAL Group, a specialist in aluminum extrusions and greenhouse roofs, was on display.
Ma will continue traveling in Europe to visit more companies and research institutions involved in agricultural infrastructure, plant breeding, and the training of experts in the field.
Why It Matters: Ma gained inspiration from Europe and believed that combining the technology with Alibaba's cloud computing, big data analysis, and artificial intelligence would create tremendous potential for modern agriculture in China.
Ma, who wanted to dedicate his post-retirement days to philanthropy, rural education and pursue his interest in reviving China's rural sector, was in Spain last week on a similar study after a stopover in Hong Kong.
Due to the ongoing pandemic, Ma chose to undertake his journey primarily by sea to avoid crowds.
Chinese regulators are closely watching Ma, a globe-trotter who spent over 100 days in 2018 traveling since the company he founded came under regulatory scrutiny.
In September, Ma visited a hi-tech farm in rural Zhejiang province, as photos circulated on Tencent Holdings Ltd's (OTC: TCEHY) social chat platform WeChat.
Alibaba, which began its growth by connecting global buyers with China's producers, had long staked its business in helping small producers, including farmers in faraway places, sell their products worldwide.
Farm technology remains a growth prospect for a company that has since diversified into cloud computing, artificial intelligence, and big data analysis. Ma had been "laying low" and spending time on such hobbies as painting, Alibaba's co-founder said.
Price Action: BABA shares traded lower by 1.58% at $167.30 premarket on the last check Wednesday.
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