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What Does Blockchain mean for Agriculture?

by Shola Ogunniyi
blockchain in Agriculture

The applications of blockchain are endless; every day we hear of new innovative ways blockchain technology is used to make transactions more secure with ease.

Blockchain technology uses a network of computers, connected to each other to keep and verify records of data. Each computer on the network stores a block of data which is linked to another computer, where another link is stored thereby forming a chain. Each of these blocks can only be accessed using a key, which makes it secure. More also data cannot be changed from any of the blocks on a computer without applying the same changes to all the other computers.

For example, when a transaction is made on an ATM of say Bank A, from someone who has an account with Bank B. The ATM checks if the requested amount is available in the user’s account before issuing cash. It goes on to pay from cash at hand in Bank A. then later reconciles account with Bank B.

However, with Blockchain technology, each ATM has real time data of information on all bank accounts. It only needs access keys to initiate a transaction. And once the transaction is completed, a new data is added to the block. This instant syncing of information is done on all bank computers and ATM machines simultaneously.

Due to its speed, security and reliability. Blockchain has been utilized in varying sectors, to resounding degrees of success. There have being calls for the technology to be applied to agriculture to help solve prevalent problems plaguing farmers around the world. These are 5 ways Blockchain technology can be implemented in agriculture:

Farm Data Monitoring

With blockchain technology, farmers have an opportunity to capture farm data in real time that would help them plan production effectively. Sensors can be utilized on farm to gather data on planting practices, crop growth, harvest and yield and have all of these data recorded into a blockchain.

Each piece of data recorded into the blockchain would be secure and can be easily accessed from any computer without being on the farm. For example, a device such as water gauge sensors (with IoT capabilities) can tell a farmer the level of water available to plants on farm, from the comfort of his home.

Over-time, this information can be accessed by banks, financial institutions and investors to track a farm’s viability, strength and monitor investments.

Better Transactions.

Transactions cannot be separated from agriculture. Just like in every business, a farmer needs to monitor and control sales of his produce to avoid being exploited. Blockchain makes it easier for each party to keep track of transactions and issues arising with payments.

For example, traditional method dictate a buyer and seller agree on payment before delivery or after. But with block-chain payment can be initiated as soon as goods are transferred, minimizing occurrences of fraud and ensuring each link in the supply chain is satisfied.

Track Crop Production.

Creating blocks having records of data associated with the production of a particular crop can be useful during purchase. For lovers of organic food or buyers with specific dictates, blockchain can be used to trace origin of food production. With every step of the process recorded, a buyer can view different sets of data such as variety of crop, when it was planted, type of fertilizer used, chemicals used and even up-how long produce was stored for.

Issues in quality assurance for crops being exported can be controlled easily, as exported products can be easily traced back to farmer.

Control Pricing.

Every year crop prices fluctuates due to a wide number of factors. Weather, increase in demand, production levels, access to market for farmers are all different variables that can dictate the price of a crop in the market. Blockchain can help farmers and buyers to negotiate prices better.

With information on previous sales history and prices of goods in other locations, farmers can easily determine what their goods are currently worth and sale it to buyers at a price that reflects the market. 

Monitor and Subsidies Disbursements.

Every year governments and agencies create programs to restructure agriculture and help farmers boost productivity. From sale of subsidized fertilizer, loan disbursement, to provision of improved seeds and other farm inputs, farmers benefit from donor agencies and government.

However, these programs are usually marred by the fact that they serve as an avenue for corrupt individuals to enrich their pockets at the detriment of farmers. Using blockchain technology, disbursement of Agric inputs and loans can be tracked to ensure each item is received by a farmer that has a record in the database.

Farmers would be unable to collect multiple items, as each transaction is confirmed before initiation. This would ensure transparency and help farmers benefit fully from structural programs in agriculture. 

Technology in Agriculture is developing at a fast pace, with new and modern platforms being used to solve problems in agriculture. To solve many of these problems however, we need a structured program in place to help farmers keep record of occurrences on farms. Using this platform, stakeholders can determine how best to help farmers and contribute to the agricultural sector.

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