India’s agricultural sector accounts for more than half of the total income of rural families. Indian agriculture is however, plagued by many challenges. The tricky place that it finds itself in has finally garnered the attention that it has so badly needed. The Central Government has begun encouraging people to adopt game changing technology like Artificial Intelligence, Internet of Things and Blockchain to fix the problems that seem to be dominating the Agriculture industry at the moment.
Awareness about issues like food safety has increased drastically among both customers as well as farmers. This has led to a greater need to have a strong system that can fix many of the big challenges related to agriculture. Blockchain provides the required technology infra to enable automation and digitisation of the significantly complicated agriculture ecosystem.
Let’s take a look at some real life use cases of Blockchain in the Agriculture space.
The awareness with respect to food safety among consumers is increasing everyday. This is as a result of illnesses associated with food being on the rise. The most comprehensive solution would be to bring transparency to the agriculture supply chain. This would allow us to find and eliminate poor processes and individuals. An Internet of Things powered Blockchain based system would give growers live data that can enable them to track the quality of the soil, irrigation, pests for crops under cultivation, storage conditions, freshness, in-transit conditions for harvested crops which would then help them take required measures. This information which would be uploaded on the Blockchain are immutable and so confirm superior accountability and traceability.
Food Supply Chain:
The food supply chain is very complicated and lacking in efficiency as a result of information asymmetry. This has an impact on farmers who do not receive their fair share. By implanting blockchain, the unnecessarily complicated food supply chain can be made simple and transparent. Blockchain allows easy and equal information access to all members of the chain – farmers, retailers, regulators, distributors and customers. This makes management of information more transparent and simple. A democratic supply chain will lead to the elimination of issues associated with fair and transparent pricing and all participants will get their fair share with respect to remuneration.
Authenticity of Agri Inputs:
Farmers may not be fully aware of the agricultural inputs like seeds and fertilisers that they are buying and so retailers make large profits. While farmers lose money for sure, large agri-input players are also hit with massive financial losses as a result of fake products which also hurts their brand. If there were a blockchain solution in place, each product from the agri-input manufacturer to the individual who purchases can be traced and this would help farmers and other participants to ensure the authenticity of the product.
Land registering is a long and complex process with fraud and fights over land holdings occurring very often. Blockchain can help tackle the poor state of land records by providing a platform where information can be collected, stored and kept safe in a transparent and easy to access way. This will significantly lower the cost for the firms that keep records since this is expensive and labor intensive. Additionally, the way smart contracts work can enable farmers and corporate firms in simple contracting and leasing of land. It will also make public distribution of social schemes to farmers easy to access and open for all to see.
Fair Disbursement of Subsidies:
Yet another issue that plagues the agriculture industry is the unfair distribution of government allocated funds and subsidies to the farmers. In fact, how much of the allocated funds actually reach the growers remains a matter of concern. However, with a Blockchain solution in place, the distribution of subsidies become more transparent and targeted. While the entire process of bringing together multiple stakeholder isn’t easy yet with a technology solution like Blockchain, achieving information decentralising and handing it over to the participants of the network becomes possible.
With the growing demand for food security, better equity for farmers, land digitisation and more, there arises the need for a system that can bring in the required transparency. Blockchain – A distributed ledger technology besides bringing the transparency and traceability, also offers a technology infrastructure that can do away with the inefficiencies of the current legacy system. We can thus infer that Blockchain technologies offers a fertile opportunity for the agriculture industry to grow and prosper.