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Blockchain for agriculture: making it happen


The CTA blockchain workshop aimed to explore blockchain and its contribution to the transformation of the agricultural sector


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The increasing buzz on blockchain technology has, in recent times, drawn attention to its application within the agriculture sector. The technology can be leveraged upon to improve agriculture efficiency, effectiveness, and transparency in Africa, Caribbean and Pacific (ACP) countries, including intra-ACP business transactions and transactions between ACP and international business stakeholders.

However, as the concept of blockchain is in its infancy in the agri-food sector, the demonstration of its application within the agriculture sector is imperative in order to create awareness and develop a proof of concept. In this regard, CTA organised a 2-day workshop with participants from four blockchain projects. Held on 28 and 29 May, 2019, at CTA headquarters in Wageningen, the workshop’s objective was to a develop common understanding on the key issues to be addressed in order to facilitate effective project implementation.

Following a call for proposals launched in 2018, the four selected organisations were Bioversity International, Erba 96 Ltd, Nitidae and CIAT. Blockchain experts and agriculture project implementers from organisations such as Blockchain Workspace, Wageningen University and Fairfood, all based in The Netherlands, also took part in the event. The workshop marked the official launch of the projects’ implementation.

Participants were encouraged to reflect on their projects, and those of other participants, to provide feedback to help guide future action plans. The various topics discussed include:

  • Administrative and requirements for successful project implementation;
  • Management and privacy identification;
  • Blockchain for agriculture awareness creation;
  • Effective implementation of smart contracts in the field;
  • Operating certification and proof of provenance features;
  • User adoption challenges (available digital devices, digital literacy, costs of access).

The four supported projects are as follows:

Blockchain technology for cocoa farming of quality and excellence: towards reward, trust, transparency and traceability from farmers to consumers

The purpose of the project is to develop a proof of concept for the application of blockchain technology in the cocoa value chain, towards improved livelihoods for cocoa farmers of excellence and their communities. Project action will target cocoa-producing countries in the ACP and farming communities awarded an International Cocoa Award between 2010 and 2017. The technology will be used to address some of the key challenges cocoa farmers face, including: a lack of financial resources to invest in good agricultural practices, limited contractual power and access to price information, limited communication with other key players of the value chain, and low transparency for consumers who want to know more about the origins of the final chocolate product. Blockchain can overcome these issues by creating ledgers to record the movements of beans and determine the exact point of origin; facilitating and verifying the performance of a contract; introducing greater efficiency and transparency to the supply chain; and improving cocoa farmers’ livelihoods through higher prices for their produce.

Blockchain-based vegetable traceability pilot in Trinidad

The ability to trace the origin of food has become increasingly important to help isolate and prevent contaminated products from reaching consumers. When such situations occur, quick action is necessary to protect public health and save lives, as well as the livelihoods of industries and companies. This project is intended to test the efficiency, effectiveness, and transparency of TE-Food’s traceability system through a pilot project in Trinidad and Tobago, involving Woodsman Caribbean Ltd. and the callaloo pack value chain.

Blockchain for better traceability of cocoa

The project’s action will provide industry players with a traceability system to improve the incomes of cocoa farmers in Côte d'Ivoire and determine the impact of cocoa production on the markets – and forest resources. The aim is to deliver a decentralised solution for a more sustainable and efficient Ivorian cocoa sector. More specifically, the objectives of the project are to: create a blockchain-based traceability system to control the origin of cocoa as well as monitor potential fraud in the intermediate links; to define blockchain-based possibilities to reduce the transaction costs related to payment transfers in the sector and for ecosystem services (linked to the carbon market); capitalise on project experience and develop a longer-term plan with stakeholders to further develop a sustainable cocoa sector using blockchain technologies.

TheMetrix: Using blockchain-distributed systems to deploy spatial risk indicators for supply chain management

The project proposes to develop a proof of concept that uses a blockchain platform on which diverse and competing value chain stakeholders will provide data in a secure, encrypted and trusted manner. The aim is to enable interoperability of data collected by actors of the research, academia, non-profits, governmental institutions, and private sectors through spatial aggregation approaches that are responsive to differences in data structures. The project will reduce production risks for farmers and various stakeholders through better monitoring of produce supply, whilst simultaneously facilitating the development of new business opportunities for value chain stakeholders from better data for decision making. In this pilot, the project will conceptualise, build and implement a blockchain platform with at least three data providers from the private and research sectors, working with the coffee value-chain in Uganda.


Opportunities for blockchain in agriculture

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To discuss the opportunities and challenges for blockchain in agriculture in the agri-food sector, over 160 participants gathered in Brussels on 15 May, 2019 at the 55th Brussels Development Briefing organised by CTA, the European Commission (DEVCO), the ACP Secretariat, Concord and BMZ.

Tracking Fiji’s tuna with blockchain technology


The Pacific region is facing a huge decrease in fisheries revenue – its principal source of income and employment over the last decade. Reported by Stop Illegal Fishing, the Fijian government states that, “About 306,440 t of fish were harvested illegally in the Pacific region with an estimated cost of $616.11 million from 2010 to 2015”.

Creating global value through high-impact crowdlending for unbanked farmers


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The Sun Exchange: Democratising energy

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Founded by Abraham Cambridge in 2014, The Sun Exchange is based in South Africa where the company is working to address a huge gap in funding for solar projects. Today, their solution is helping to power factories, schools and wildlife. In this article, Cambridge details Sun Exchange’s experience with blockchain technology.

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