Did you know that 1/3 of all the food produced worldwide is wasted? The reason: farmers often just can’t bring their products to consumers early enough! Sounds shocking, right?
Well, this is actually one major motivator for agriculture to turn to blockchain. It’s linking farmers directly to consumers, doing away with middlemen, and disposing of produce much quicker.
Most importantly, it is putting the entire production and distribution process available for verification through a transparent system of record-keeping and transaction-settling. This, for example, allows farmers to log their harvest on the technology, where it can be tracked through processing, distribution, and all the way to the supermarket.
In parallel, consumers turn can trace where products come from by using their smartphones to access chips that contain relevant information on the items that they’re planning to buy.
And to prevent losses due to the damage brought by unexpected calamities on crops, blockchain-enabled remote-sensing of weather data can determine insurance payouts before a destructive storm even occurs.
The Reality of Blockchain in Agriculture
Indeed, blockchain in agriculture deserves attracting growing attention. So what’s preventing it from attaining full fruition?
One area in agriculture that blockchain will have difficulty improving is the supply chain. The process requires a network of sensors and tagging technologies that are simply not yet in place. Efforts are underway to set them up, but achieving smooth interoperability will be difficult since everything needs to be synchronized.
The blockchain itself is also deemed too complicated, making it difficult to convince farmers to integrate. There is a glaring lack of awareness, made even worse by the absence of training programs to help growers understand the technology and consequently invest.
It’s also doubtful whether cryptocurrencies, blockchain’s payment system, can be used in food supply chains due to its volatility arising from speculation and price fluctuations.
All things considered, blockchain will be effective if it can be easily understood and used. There must be a clear policy on how to facilitate payment transactions. And the government must come up with clear regulations to encourage adoption.
Blockchain in Agriculture Applications
Slowly but surely, blockchain in agriculture is gaining acceptance through applications that highlight its benefits. Let’s review some of them.
- With a blockchain ledger, farmers can provide consumers with accurate documentation of the value chain that went into their products.
- Blockchain technology can be used to track crops and provide verifiable information to farmers, distributors, and consumers in real-time.
Food safety and quality control
- Blockchain tracking can record data from the Internet of Things sensors to monitor crop quality leading up to harvest, while in storage, and during delivery.
- Blockchain-enhanced agricultural record-keeping allows growers to automatically gather precise information for optimum irrigation, custom fertilization, and targeted pest control.
- Blockchain’s smart contracts spare farmers from the long lines of intermediaries, thereby simplifying and hastening the delivery process.
- Blockchain record-keeping eliminates unnecessary payment delays and can be configured to spread out payments to farmers throughout the year instead of seasonally.
- Blockchain’s peer-to-peer network enables direct transactions between buyers and sellers, thus doing away with middlemen and their commission fees.
- Blockchain platforms use digitized contract documents and automated data-matching to avoid costly duplications and manual checks on agricultural commodity transactions.
Farming resource management
- As soon as a piece of machinery is fixed, a mechanic with blockchain access can update its status from multiple locations.
- Blockchain tracks maintenance records in real-time to inform growers which machinery is available, which needs maintenance, and which is being repaired.
Blockchain in agriculture presents a promising solution to the food shortage that results from the rising world population and climate change. And even though first, it must resolve the issues confronting it, a concerted effort between consumers, the business sector, and governments can ultimately get the system off the ground.