Blockchain technology opens a disruptive potential in paving a new decentralized framework of trust and transformation across the agri-food value chain. The approach underlying the technology has had several supporters as well as a few criticisms mixed with skepticisms in the past decade. The drive for the blockchain in agriculture and food supply chain market stems from their enormous role the technology has in ensuring sustainability of production and consumption. Most importantly, blockchain is gaining groundswell of interest from policymakers from its growing role in advancing the scope of global food security.
Riding on the wave on Industry 4.0, blockchain has stridently emerged as a new value proposition for supply chain partners in the agriculture-food chain. From farm to fork, the distributed software architecture, strengthened by cutting-edge computing technology, can form a robust tracking framework characterized by immutability, trust, and transparency.
Over the decades, the agriculture and the food sector has embraced numerous new technologies across their value chain. Besides leveraging contemporary farm production technologies, the focus now has become more intense than ever to prevent food wastage, contamination, and slack in implementation of regulations. Each of these has been fueled by multifaceted objectives—social, economic, and political.
Numerous factors underpin the possibilities in the blockchain in agriculture and food supply chain market. With burgeoning demand for food crops to feed a swiftly growing worldwide population, global food security has come to the centerstage. Despite the continuous rise in production volumes, the change has unarguably failed to keep pace with the demand. According to a study by researchers in China, whose findings were disclosed online in 2019, every year over 10,000,000 people die of starvation. More than a billion people worldwide suffer from sort of malnutrition. All these statistics make global food security on the top of agenda of governments.
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The supply chain management has seen some incredible gains from artificial intelligence (AI) programs in the blockchain in agriculture and food supply chain market. But what has been largely ignored in such initiatives are the ensuring the security of the data in transactions, lack of individuals’ identity, and accountability; all are breeding grounds for corruption. Blockchain promises to be fulfilling both short-term and long-term strategic initiatives to fill these gaps. It has particularly enabled players in the agri-food chain to track the produce from farm to reaching plate of customers, with reliability of information across all stakeholders being a dazzling advantage.
Stridently, the technology frameworks will bring data transparency and traceability, thereby paving way to more informed decision making.
In this backdrop, blockchain-based traceability models notably for the supply chain is gaining attention the food sector. Subsequently, smart contracts based on digital systems have already kicked in the momentum. Deep enforcement learning models are tellingly enabling players to unlock value in an agriculture IoT system.
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Grain Discovery, an online marketplace leveraging blockchain technology, has helped agriculturists to produce competitive crops and subsequently gain business value. For instance, a multinational retail corporation Walmart has tied-up with technology giant IBM for blockchain-based traceability programs in their supply chain to bring transparency. Producer who are vulnerable to the changing business climate of agri-food sector are also likely to reap the gains. For instance, discerning consumers will reward producers who adopt earth-friendly production processes.
All said and done, there are macroeconomic as well as microeconomic limitations in realizing the potential in market. Farmers and consumers in the hinterland still have to gain digital literacy to understand and make use of blockchain-enabled supply chains. Another major skepticism has to do with the nature of blockchain in current times. Owned by corporates, the frameworks reeks of control by a few players with financial might. Thus, decentralization is a key imperative for the success of the implementation.
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