Australian farmers are all too familiar with dry and erratic weather conditions affecting day-to-day business. Reports over the last 20 years demonstrate that these conditions will only worsen — with an increased climate estimated to have reduced yearly profits by 22%.
The current bushfire season has had a disastrous impact on the agricultural industry. NASA mapping data estimated that 8.6 million sheep and 2.3 million cattle across New South Wales and Victoria were affected, and about 500,000 total livestock perished.
While harsh temperature drops and intermittent rainfall provides an illusion that the worst is over, this is far from the truth. Dozens of bushfires still ravage the drought-stricken landscape and temperatures continue to rise. Resources are becoming less accessible, leaving many farmers — who were already battling arid climates and persistently low profits — on edge.
The window of opportunity for farmers to make profit is closing in. Farmers are struggling. The challenge is to find new ways to retain and increase profitability in these increasingly harsh conditions. Blockchain technology and the new revenue opportunities it enables could be the answer.
Blockchain helps improve agricultural efficiencies in times of crisis
Blockchain — an open-source and secure database that provides traceability of records — opens up new and exciting possibilities for improved agricultural efficiency. Consumers are eager to know the items they are buying are clean, safe, and sustainably produced. Visibility along the supply chain provides very useful information that is not otherwise obtainable.
This year, we saw constant hurdles affecting farmers who couldn’t get the emergency assistance they needed. Government teams such as Agriculture Victoria struggled to respond to urgent livestock loss requests, which are considered biosecurity risks. And farmers, who desperately required additional food, water, hay, fencing and other farm facilities, faced logistical nightmares when these essentials couldn’t be obtained.
The industry has the chance to transform the way it does business. There is no need to accept the way “things have always been” as being adequate to meet new global and domestic challenges. New logistics methods based on emerging technologies can improve the flow of goods and information.
In order to make an impact, we need industry transformation. Blockchain is a breakthrough way to store data and share information.
Adopting transparent technology solutions in the agricultural industry opens new opportunities for industry co-operation and increased profits. By digitizing the supply chain process, we can safely store and share data, strengthening the connection between farm and product.
We’ve already seen the impact blockchain technology has had on other businesses such as the taxi and hotel industries. Those who were slow to adapt to the changes were adversely affected. The time for change is now upon the farming and logistics sectors.
What embracing agritech innovations means for farmers
So, what does it mean for farmers? Firstly, blockchain technology means farmers can track the entire supply chain: from farm to stockyard, feedlot, abattoir and exporter, giving greater control over livestock data. Livestock can be traced from birth through life, and even their feed can be tracked in real time. This allows farmers to calculate the cost of feed per paddock or animal, which assists in monitoring food inventory and improving costing modules to enhance budget management.
Secondly, by collaborating on a single open-source application, farmers can better adapt to environmental changes by developing new and improved business models. Farmers can form alliances with partners and feed important data to key organizations. When more farmers are using the secure database, farmers can highlight gaps or inefficiencies and specifically determine where issues along the supply chain are slowing productivity down.
Thirdly, in times of crisis, a traceable platform demonstrates where the greatest need is and can be the best solution in ensuring we make the biggest impact as we relieve and recover, even when the bushfire season is over.
We learned very quickly this year that traditional communication and data-storing systems are not sufficient. Adopting transparent technological solutions in the agricultural industry is critical, especially considering that climatic conditions nation-wide are expected to worsen.
Farmers cannot afford to fall behind in the climate crisis
Farming is becoming increasingly unpredictable, and bushfire seasons are becoming more likely and are lasting longer. As an increasing climate becomes a more pressing issue, there will be greater pressure on workflow and data-sharing solutions.
It is clear that blockchain technology is the solution Australia has been looking for. As farmers look to rebuild their land and livelihood, we recommend adopting agricultural innovations that will improve productivity, profitability and environmental sustainability of their farming businesses.
It’s time to keep up. We need to be aware of the potential in adopting digital technologies such as blockchain across a range of industries. The climate isn’t getting any cooler — as farmers, we cannot afford to fall behind.
The views, thoughts and opinions expressed here are the author’s alone and do not necessarily reflect or represent the views and opinions of Cointelegraph.
Mark Toohey is a joint managing director of Aglive’s blockchain platform, a world-first livestock traceability system based in Australia that utilizes blockchain technology to track food along its supply chain. He was also the co-founder of TBSx3, an Australian logistics technology company dedicated to using blockchain technology to combat the worldwide trade of fake goods.