Is Blockchain ready for destitute farmers?

“Those who believe that we have reached the limit of business progress and employment opportunity in this country are like the farmer who had two windmills and pulled one down because he was afraid there was not enough wind for both.”

- Author: Morris S. Tremaine

Before hopping into "How can blockchain help destitute farmers?", we should plunge into what's the need to combine blockchain in agriculture.

There are cases in every country where we can see, farmers are struggling hard for their own survival. The farmers are battling everywhere around the world to sell their produce at a decent cost, particularly in my nation-India where the circumstances are severe to the point that some of them end up committing suicide, the middleman takes away all their producer and they are left with nothing to feed themselves.

“If the farmer is poor then so is the whole country.”

According to UN reports, it is found that up to 50% of crop value vanishes between harvest and the point of sale. The real question is “Where are the intermediaries and what are they doing?”

They are the middleman who is cutting in between cost.

But how can we get rid of the intermediary? If so, how will the farmer be involved in the economy? One could suggest using the credit card PayPal. All these mechanisms, however, require high fees and tough bureaucracy that farmers do not have and are not dealing with.

Hence, one such solution is a high-tech disruptive technology, Blockchain. This divine technology will establish a direct link between farmers and retailers.

With the help of Blockchain, small farmers could easily get together and organize themselves to reach the market without the middleman. This could only happen when they are adapted with the means of cryptocurrencies like Bitcoin, Ethereum and so on. Now, farmers are integrated into the world economy by means of cryptocurrencies, because there is no institution in the midst of producers and consumers.

How can we use blockchain technology to achieve this?

Unless like other cryptocurrencies, blockchain technology isn’t all about cash. Rather, it is actually a powerful type of secure database. It’s a ledger of accounts and transactions that are easy to modify if you have the right keys, but when a transaction is once written, it's almost impossible to change.

Subsequently, you can think about a blockchain as an ultra-secure way to record, guarantee, and exchange assets without relying on a bank, dealer, or other intermediaries.

Let's go a little simpler, a blockchain is a (ledger) database containing blocks called transaction details, information and records. These blocks have incorruptible trust, i.e. the block data can't be changed even if God wanted to.

In terms of technology, data is unchangeable. Anything (which holds value) can be put on the blockchain.

For example, Tomatoes, gold, property, etc.

There are various startups into Blockchain, in India iCognitive Global is the only startup which uses blockchain in agriculture. It brings greater digitization and services to the world’s large farmer base which will foster the rural economy.

Blockchains play a couple of key roles in agricultural supply chains. One of which is to track the origin of food products and trace them. For example, one application is to track the provenance of food that is certified as organic or fair trade to ensure that it has been properly labelled, as well as to address incidents of contamination or food fraud. Food contamination and food fraud pose serious health risks: The World Health Organization estimates that every year 1 out of 10 people are falling ill from eating contaminated food, resulting in 420,000 annual deaths.

With the help of blockchain, farmers will not be required any third party. The potential impacts of farmers include ensuring that farmers receive timely and complete payments through the use of smart contracts and helping farmers to collect real-time data to manage their crops and harvests more effectively.

IBM along with Walmart says that the world is changing and it’s changing a lot in food. They are envisioning a fully transparent 21st century digitized food system. With blockchain, these big giants are collecting information at the farm.

“ IBM says its Hyper-Leger technology can show where produce came from in seconds. Traditional methods can take up to a week or so. “

VP of Food Safety, Mr. Frank Yiannas says, “the holy grail of traceability and transparency for 20 years. With blockchain and with smart devices in every farmer’s hand, transparency can be achieved today.”

Reality check: Blockchain with some implications coming to the agricultural supply chain in the future

  • Information can be captured at the packing house

  • Transportation along that entire flow

  • sharing or communicating that information with the customer

  • Temperature conditions of the crop

“IBM and Walmart are after transparency of food system”

What are the benefits of a transparent food system?

  • Fresher Food

  • Enhanced Food Safety

  • Deter Foof Fraud

  • Less Food Wastage

  • Promote responsibility

  • Build Trust

With that note, here I close, Blockchain can be used in Agriculture, by providing farmers with basic financial services, digital identity, mobile finance, increasing their income, enabling access to insurance and loan. Hence, a better and secure life for families and local community.

The impact of blockchain technology on agriculture proves it has great potential for the future. And I believe it will have a transformational effect on the agricultural supply chain.

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