Technology is changing the face of agriculture. Some examples of agriculture technology include automated machinery, biologicals, precision agriculture, and the use of big data and AI. With the help of developers and agriculture experts these technologies are increasing productivity, yields and contributing to a more sustainable future. Farming with Blockchain is another technological innovation that can help farmers ensure transparency and traceability of their products with many benefits for both the farmer and consumer.
Farming with Blockchain
Farming with Blockchain is where data is shared using a digital ledger that is stored and managed across networks and servers. When data is retrieved, it is entered into a block, and once that block is filled, subsequent blocks are filled and attached to the first. This decentralized data is extremely difficult to change or hack and therefore provides an incredible opportunity for transparency and traceability within the agriculture supply chain. Some examples of the data blockchain can store include online transactions, shipping manifests, and veterinary records. The technology allows for all the necessary information regarding an agricultural product to be stored without missing pieces of where the product came from.
Transparency and Traceability
Developing and maintaining systems of transparency and traceability is vital for food safety as well as providing greater profits for suppliers. Traceability allows for the management of inputs and products by improving food quality and safety. The benefits of transparency include knowing where products come from, increasing food safety, making recalls easier, and ensuring materials are being sources sustainably.
In an investigation on traceability, the United States Department of Health reports three main objectives when developing traceability systems. These include improving supply management, facilitating traceback for food safety and quality, and differentiating foods with subtle or undetectable quality attributes. When these goals are met, larger profits are made, which provides great incentive to increase transparency and traceability among suppliers.
Blockchain in Action
While methods of traceability and transparency are already in place, there are gaps in information with the mainstream methods used today. Using blockchain allows for a higher level of accuracy with data stored at every level of a product’s existence from its inception to the consumer’s hands. The Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations reports a real-world example of blockchain in action. In Papua, New Guinea, farmers needed to prove the quality of their pork in order to export. A system was put in place using blockchain to track the livestock using radio frequency identification tags. This information was stored, and buyers had access to this information to verify quality. A system was put in place using blockchain to track the livestock using radio frequency identification tags. This information was stored, and buyers had access to this information to verify quality.
Integrating new technology into already existing systems can be challenging. Technology developers, agriculture experts, ranchers and farmers will have to adjust in order to integrate blockchain technology. While farming with blockchain does come with its own challenges, the benefits it can provide within the agriculture industry are staggering.