Farmers in poor countries are close to a big improvement in their farming. New technologies like satellite pictures, drones, and computer learning are helping farmers produce more. Now, it’s easier than ever for them to sell their crops in places like Western Europe.
The only thing is, avocado farmers in East Africa or coffee growers in Latin America need to show proof that they have grown their crops using sustainable farming methods.
They can’t have a big harvest by cutting down all the trees or by making kids work. If the products are labeled “organic,” they must show proof that they didn’t use man-made fertilizers and pesticides.
Blockchain technology could be very important here.
Creating a permanent document
“Blockchain combined with mobile and other new technologies is a really good solution. This is according to Jon Trask, the CEO of Dimitra, a company that works in 18 countries and has helped government agencies in Brazil, India, Uganda and Nepal. ”
On July 20, Dimitra and One Million Avocados (OMA) — a tech group focused on helping the environment — said they will work together to help Kenyan avocado farmers grow more and better avocados using new technology, including blockchain.
Dimitra Technology said they are working together with someone on Twitter.
Dimitra’s multitech platform, which includes mobile technology, artificial intelligence, Internet of Things devices, satellite imaging and genomics, will help small farmers get more help to make farming better. It will focus on preventing pests and diseases and keeping track of important data.
Another important goal of the partnership is to assist farmers in East Africa in fixing problems with tracing their produce so that they can get the most money for it and follow international rules.
This movement of sending agricultural products from countries in the southern hemisphere to countries in the northern hemisphere is growing, and it’s not only happening in Kenya or Africa. “We are seeing the same thing happening in Indonesia, Brazil, and a few other countries in Latin America,” Trask said to Cointelegraph. “When farmers sell their crops in other countries, they can make more money for each kilogram they sell. ”
Having the right paperwork will be very important for people who want to export things, especially because of Europe’s new deforestation rules. These rules started in June but the main things that need to be done won’t start until the end of 2024. “Trask said you need to show that your company hasn’t taken part in cutting down trees. ”
When a farmer in Kenya wants to send avocados to another country, they have to make papers that prove where the avocados came from. That document is secure. Making a fake document is simple.
Introducing blockchain, the best tool for tracking things. “Blockchain-traced data cannot be changed and can be used as evidence for farmers to get certificates or loans,” said researcher SzuTung Chen. He studied coffee farming in Colombia for his master’s thesis. “A company that uses blockchain technology is teaming up with carbon credit companies to help farmers who are using eco-friendly methods. They can track their farming data and earn extra money. ”
Chen said one of the main issues for small farmers is not having enough information. “Coffee companies and roasters make more money from the price of coffee because they are closer to the people who buy it, and can use their brand and marketing to their advantage. ”
Farmers don’t know where their coffee goes after they sell it. They also don’t know where it goes or what’s happening in the coffee market. This makes them vulnerable in the supply chain.
She said that blockchain could help make things clear for both the people who buy coffee and the farmers who grow it. They would all be able to see where the coffee comes from and what happens to it after it’s been grown.
Stronger than just blockchain
Dimitra will use space pictures to help Kenyan farmers show they are not destroying forests to grow avocados. This technology can also help them produce more crops. Dimitra used computers to look at pictures from space and figure out where more plant food or water is needed on farms.
A multitech solution can also create benefits. Monica Singer, a leader from South Africa who works at ConsenSys, told Cointelegraph:
“When you can combine mobile and Internet of Things devices with AI, it will be a stronger solution than just using the blockchain ledger. ”
Is this new way of working across different subjects the future trend. “I think that blockchain can’t work alone,” Trask said. “We must use different technologies together to offer the services that the farming industry requires. ”
Trask said things might be different in the finance area. He has worked on blockchain projects for six years and has experience with supply chains for even longer. DeFi use cases can work by themselves, but agriculture is an exception. “When we use machine learning and visual imaging with drones and blockchain, we can get more value for our money. ”
The company used technology to teach computers to identify trees from pictures taken from space. A “tree” needs to be a certain size and have a certain shape. The company can make reports that show where trees have been taken away and added on a farm over time.
Dimitra believes that farmers in Kenya can produce twice as much food by using new technologies, but she wants to know how much of that comes from digital ledger technology specifically.
Trask said that it needs different technologies working together, but we shouldn’t forget how useful blockchain is. “We first worked on a project in East Africa that focused on raising cattle,” he said, and he also mentioned:
Farmers found out that they could make more money per pound of beef by using a traceability system. They could make 50% to 100% more money compared to not using the system.
African avocado farmers can make a lot more money selling to Europe if they have the right paperwork. They could also use new technology to make their farms more productive and make even more money.
Some people believe that blockchain technology could have a big impact on Africa’s farming industry. It could be used to keep track of information and make sure that the food is good quality. Shadrack Kubyane, who helped start Coronet Blockchain and eFama App in South Africa, said this to Cointelegraph.
Kubyane learned how important it is to have secure farming records when a very bad outbreak of listeriosis happened in South Africa in January 2017. More than 200 people died because of it.
He said the case is still being fought in the courts today. The main suspect is a big company that processes and delivers food. They say they didn’t cause the outbreak. “If blockchain had been used in that food chain, we could have quickly found the cause of the outbreak in just a few seconds, instead of waiting for six years to find out. ”
A “game changer” means something that changes things in a big way.
ConsenSys’s Singer is optimistic about blockchain being used more in Africa in the future. She said that using blockchain technology for tracking shipments in Africa will make a big difference. “Many people in the continent have mobile phones. ” We know that blockchain is very helpful when there are lots of middlemen involved and when we need to keep track of transactions between many people in a clear way.
In Africa, farmers usually don’t get much money when they sell their crops because they have to go through a lot of middlemen. Blockchain technology can help by reducing the number of middlemen involved in the selling process. Also, “We don’t have many advanced technologies for tracking and tracing. ”
Blockchain has some similar characteristics to the traditional African bartering system used in Kubyane’s small village.
During the time when crops are picked, you can exchange them for animals in different amounts as required. This had some benefits similar to blockchain. People could trace where their food came from. Goods could be exchanged without extra costs from middlemen. Farming families had control over their supply chain, from seed banks to selling directly to customers.
The barter system has some problems, like not being able to work on a big scale. Kubyane doesn’t want to go back to how Africa used to get food. However, blockchain technology can be useful for solving a lot of modern problems such as keeping track of where food comes from, reducing food waste after harvesting, making supply chains more transparent, stopping unfair trade practices, and breaking up big companies that harm small farmers.
You need to be patient.
In general, it might take a while to make significant changes in African farming. “Definitely, it will take a long time,” said Trask. For example, a group of farmers may make an agreement with Dimitra to bring in 30,000 farmers. We might not get everyone to use it, but we could get most people to use it.
Furthermore, he added that only 10% of users in the system may be “power users. ” Some people are joining because big food companies like Nestle have said that they need to keep track of where their food comes from. Other farmers just do not want to switch to new technologies.
Another problem is that sometimes it’s too hard to get all the people involved or to learn about the technology needed to put these solutions into action.
Solutions need to be easy to get, not too expensive, and able to grow. “It’s very important to have long-term investment at a large size. ”
In the future, combining blockchains with other new technologies like satellite images, AI, and mobile tech could greatly improve farming in poor countries. Until that day comes, farmers in East Africa and other places could sell their products for more money by selling them to countries like the EU and North America.
However, in order for their crops to be regularly eaten in Western countries, farmers need to show that their crops were grown without destroying forests or using child labor. They need to convince government officials and people who care about the environment. To make that happen, both private and public blockchains with better tracking and certification abilities could be very useful.