Food gives us life, but it has the power to take it away just as easily. The way that food is grown, harvested, stored, and transported may literally be a life and death matter, and blockchain could help minimize the danger of our food. So it’s no surprise that certain blockchain pilot cases in agriculture are well-funded.
We’re talking IBM and Wal-Mart levels of financial support. The two corporate giants teamed up to trace mangoes from farm to store using blockchain tech, with impressive results. This project and others like it have stoked enthusiasm, but it’s not quite emblematic of blockchain’s broader stature in the agriculture industry.
The common farmer has taken to blockchain slowly. Dairy farmers and their ilk are hesitant to spend money, and blockchain is seen as yet another expense.
The burden of educating these farmers about the benefits of blockchain may fall on the likes of Wal-Mart and IBM — financial giants with deep pockets and a corporate stake in agriculture. As they fund successful test cases for blockchain, smaller operations may justify their own investment in this technology.
Uses for blockchain in farming range from crop monitoring to smart storage and tracking of food from stem to store. But farmers don’t care about the state of the industry as much as they care about the state of their own farm. As more farmers realize the benefits of blockchain, expect wider adoption to ensue.
Here’s what the experts say.
1. Emma Weston, CEO and co-founder of AgriDigital
“Agriculture has typically been one of the least digitized industries. Agri-supply chains are incredibly complex, with multiple participants and lots of double-entry data processing. There is often minimal communication and information sharing. These factors combined lead to a lack of transparency and trust across supply chains.
Innovation in the blockchain space is happening at a rapid pace and is gaining attention worldwide due to its positive disruption in other industries such as finance, healthcare, and telecommunications. Agri-supply chains are in the unique position to explore blockchain's full potential — assisting participants in improving transparency and efficiency in business transactions, compliance processes, and tracking and tracing of food products.”
2. Carlos Iborra, CEO of FruitsApp
The innovative possibilities that the market offers us today and that are applicable to the agricultural sector are going much faster than the sector itself. Therefore, those of us who work to help create a new [way of deploying] agriculture, we have to adapt to its status quo, and change it step-by-step without losing the long-term vision.
This change is a huge task, and it will not happen immediately, but we have to start taking the necessary steps to follow its path, and among all the parties involved, it will become a reality sooner than expected.”
3. Braden Perry, Ag Business and Blockchain Attorney at Kennyhertz Perry
“Blockchain in agriculture, like blockchain technology itself, is in its infancy, but on the peak of rapid expansion. Ag businesses that see the potential and are proactive in its adoption will likely be the frontrunners in innovation and ahead of the curve when the benefits are fully realized. There is an opportunity for efficiencies in transparency and cost-cutting, and a few high-profile applications are taking hold. When the regulatory landscape evolves with the technology, more agricultural business will likely follow.”
4. Michelle Klieger, Founder and President of Stratagerm Consulting
“Agriculture blockchain has huge potential but is largely unproven. There are one-off examples of food being traced, but these are all pilot projects. IBM and Walmart have a joint project to trace cut mangoes from the shelf back to the farm. This took six days using traditional methods and only 2.2 seconds using IBM Food Trust blockchain technology. Ripe.io has traced a tomato, and GrainChain tracks grain from the field to the table.
The investment in food-related Blockchain technologies and platforms will easily have eclipsed investment in developing any other food sector technologies.”
5. Edith Muthoni, Chief Editor, LearnBonds
“The adoption of blockchain in the global agricultural sector has gained pace in the last two years. Global entities like the United Nations FAO are taking keen interest and regularly releasing study cases and statistical reports detailing the impact blockchain could have on the world’s agricultural economy. Others like the Dutch ministry of agriculture are already sponsoring blockchain in agriculture-related research projects. These entities and others around the world are chasing a common trend that seeks to revolutionize agriculture today – food tracking technology – that traces food from farms to grocery stores.”
6. Josh Siteman, Managing Director, Intravision Group AS
“[Blockchain in agriculture is] maturing rapidly. There have been a few significant prototypes (e.g. IBM and Walmart tracking the swine industry in China) and the efficacy of the approach optimizing traceability is sound.”
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