Unlocking the potential of blockchain for agriculture
This ICT Update magazine (PDF) by CTA focuses on the potential of blockchain for agriculture. Business transaction in agriculture have been transformed by the digitisation of the value chain. Despite this progress, there are still many challenges relating to the traceability of products and transparency in supply chain management. Database systems managing transaction records were managed in isolation, not open to all the other stakeholders in the chain; they were open to fraud, and transactions were difficult to secure. The blockchain technology has the potential to provide answers to a number of issues in agriculture. The articles in this magazine begin by providing a history and defining the blockchain. The blockchain is often a background addition to existing processes in the value chain and lends itself to recording transactions, thus ensuring issues of provenance and allowing certification. Applications use a mixture of public and private blockchains. Nearly everyone in the magazine agrees that some knowledge is needed before moving to select a solution. A number of questions should be answered to assess whether the system will need to be a public or private blockchain, and which function the system should be optimised for. If the main issue is traceability, this will lead to a different approach than for value transfers. The magazine shows projects being implemented around the world, about applications in Africa particularly covering electronic payments, how is benefits and challenges smallholder farmers and the limits and fallacies of blockchain. Recommendations of a workshop by CTA on blockchain are: 1) Promote agricultural value chain engagement and use of digital technologies in the agricultural sector; 2) Educate key stakeholders so they can seize its benefits; 3) Work closely with leading country-level outgrower and agricultural finance schemes to test blockchain solutions; 4) Support developers and startups to engage in the blockchain space; 5) Develop ecosystems promoting blockchain in agriculture.