Blockchain in Agriculture: A Fresh Outlook
Where does your food come from? This is a question that often rings in the mind of consumers today. Whether buying from a trusted local grocer, a franchise supermarket or ordering groceries from an online delivery service, you probably pay attention to where you buy your food. A growing concern amongst consumers now goes beyond where that food is retailed to where it is sourced; how has food been grown, produced, packaged and how does it travel to the market stand or to your door.
The versatility of blockchain technology like MIMOSI allows it to be applied to the agriculture sector. Blockchain is useful in understanding the source and journey of produce. This is crucial for both farmers and consumers: it allows farmers to negotiate better prices throughout the supply chain, while giving consumers certainty as to where their produce comes from.
A central issue is the growing lack of trust in the the sourcing of produce and food sold in markets. While many food retailers express a commitment to responsibly sourced goods, many cannot guarantee the conditions in which all produce and raw materials in their products have been grown. This is simply because until of late, the technology and infrastructure has not existed to place these controls on agriculture supply chains.
Blockchain can be used in agriculture in many ways as the minerals industry and can provide an elevated level of transparency, expediency, (i.e. smart contracts, digitized records and transactions), data monitoring and minimized human error. Blockchain in agriculture also has the potential to reduce food waste through quality control. For example, food shipments can be monitored throughout the supply chain by ensuring safety parameters, such as temperature, remain constant. Both seller and buyer informed are informed of any issues at an instant.
Uses for Blockchain technology in Agricultural markets:
Reduce Food waste
Increase efficiency of transactions along the supply chain and reduce fraud
Monitor crop conditions
Food certification: certified organic, non-GMO, vegan, Halal, fair trade and artisanal farmed
Future application with the possible legalization of cannabis to certify source, quality and standard.
A pilot study commissioned by the Dutch Ministry of Agriculture, Nature and Food Quality, on the use of blockchain technology (BCT) in argifood chains has also identified a lack of efficiency and possibility for error in the current model for agriculture supply chains. A 2017 (PPP) project report ‘Blockchain for Agrifood’ outlines that “Much of the compliance data and information is audited by trusted third parties and stored either on paper or in a centralised database…. current transparency and trust systems have not been able to solve or at times even have exacerbated the problems of low transparency and trust in agrifood chains, [posing] a severe threat to food safety, food quality, and sustainability.”
Using blockchain to improve argiculture supply chains is a matter of food integrity: “this refers to the fairness and authenticity of food in food value chains both at the physical layer and the digital layer, where the digital layer should provide reliable and trustworthy information on the origin and provenance of food products in the physical layer.”
MIMOSI blockchain can help value chain partners in improving transparency and efficiency of business transactions, compliance processes and tracking and tracing of food products and can also help NGOs and impact investors in supporting inclusive business models.
Blockchain technology provides a means to ensure permanence of records and potentially to facilitate the sharing of data between disparate actors in a food value chain. This potential may lead to an exciting paradigm shift facilitating transparency and trust in food chains that ensures food integrity.