Blockchain has been recognized for its potential to transform finance and other industries that rely on data, but what happens when innovation meets the world’s oldest industry — agriculture? It turns out that blockchain has a lot to offer to the food and agriculture sectors, especially when merged with other innovative technologies such as artificial intelligence (AI), satellites and the Internet of Things (IoT).
The agricultural sector can join the tech revolution to upgrade every aspect that has to do with transactions and data. For example, blockchain could streamline processes related to the supply chain by increasing traceability and bringing automation to the table.
A report from InsightAce Analytics found that blockchain in the agriculture and food supply chain is a market valued at over $280 million as of 2022, and is expected to grow to over $7 billion by 2031, demonstrating a compound annual growth rate (CAGR) of 43.76% during that period.
How can blockchain help agriculture businesses?
Thanks to its unique architecture that involves decentralization, blockchain ensures the highest possible degree of transparency and traceability, which are key elements in the agricultural sector. Decentralized networks enable participants, including farmers, producers, retailers and exporters, to monitor and address major challenges showing up in the supply chain. Eventually, blockchain records can be used for analysis purposes to improve various aspects of the supply chain.
The adoption of blockchain in agriculture can also help regulatory compliance and reporting. By ensuring the provision of accurate, up-to-date, tamper-proof data, stakeholders can make better-informed decisions and implement proper corporate governance. Decentralized networks also simplify the distribution of certification data among relevant parties.
Besides transparency, blockchain can facilitate other advancements in the agricultural sector. For instance, it can enable better management of land rights, more efficient food safety tracking, and enhanced traceability of inputs like seeds and fertilizers.
Farmers can leverage permissioned and permissionless solutions
Tech giants have realized the potential of decentralized ledger technology for agriculture. For example, IBM provides businesses with a permissioned blockchain platform called IBM Food Trust, which offers multiple features, including proof of origin, traceability, fraud monitoring and documentation, among others.
Agricultural companies can also leverage blockchain solutions that rely on public networks, which ensure a higher degree of decentralization and security. One example is Dimitra, an AgTech company that aims to help farmers reduce the amount of labor required to complete manual tasks by integrating its technology stack, which combines blockchain, AI, IoT, drones and satellites.
Dimitra offers digital solutions to help farmers gather data to make smarter and faster decisions to improve their crop yields and increase sustainability.
For Dimitra CEO Jon Trask, the integration of blockchain and other innovative technologies into agricultural processes is natural and imperative. He said: “Every smallholder farmer, regardless of economic status, should be able to benefit from simple, beautiful and useful technology, because when farmers thrive, economies thrive.”
Dimitra offers four main AgTech applications:
- Connected Farmer — this flagship platform aims to assist small-scale farmers in documenting their agricultural practices, generating and obtaining comprehensive dashboard reports, and offering guidance to help them make well-informed choices. The platform relies on blockchain and uses several other innovative technologies to provide farmers with valuable data. The advanced version of the platform includes features like a sensor management module, satellite and weather, an online agricultural marketplace, as well as track, trace and export documents.
- Livestock Guru — the platform utilizes DNA data to monitor animal lineage. Identifying parentage and carriers of recessive traits improves the selection process for reproduction within herds, ultimately leading to superior quality and more robust livestock products.
- Connected Coffee — this all-in-one solution allows coffee farmers, traders and other stakeholders to grow and distribute coffee worldwide. This smart farming and supply chain management app tracks the movement of coffee from cultivation to distribution.
- Deforestation platform — the European Union has banned imports of products associated with deforestation, such as palm oil, cattle, soy and timber. Products from farms involved in deforestation after December 2020 are prohibited. To comply, consumer goods companies, importers and farmers must certify their adherence to these regulations. Dimitra offers a Deforestation Certification Module, which uses satellite imagery and machine learning to assess compliance and generate blockchain-based certificates.
The Dimitra ecosystem is fueled by its proprietary Ethereum-based token, DMTR. It acts as a utility token for the Connected Farmer app that helps farmers worldwide increase sustainability and make informed decisions.
To spread its mission and technology, Dimitra is also working with governments, agencies, NGOs and for-profit organizations. The company was awarded a contract from the OBC Indian Chamber of Commerce, Industries and Agriculture for deploying its Connected Farmer app to 1.3 million farms for soil assessment and remediation. Elsewhere, Dimitra partnered with an organization in the world’s third-largest fruit producing country, the Brazilian Association of Fruit Producers and Exporters. Its members represent more than 85% of the total fruit exported by Brazil.
Dimitra has demonstrated that integrating blockchain with other innovations like AI, satellites and IoT can revolutionize the agricultural sector. By increasing transparency, traceability and efficiency, these advancements offer major opportunities for improving supply chain management, regulatory compliance and land rights management.
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