The agricultural sector of the country is the primary means of income for over 58% of the rural families. Yet it is plagued by several problems and challenges. However, the grim situation of the Indian Agricultural industry has finally managed to gather the focus and attention it rightly deserves with the Central Government encouraging the adoption and implementation of disruptive technologies such as AI, IoT and Blockchain to resolve issues plaguing the Agri industry. In fact, PM Narendra Modi in his inaugural speech during the 22nd Edition of the World Congress on Information Technology strongly advocated and encouraged the adoption of these technologies across different industries with a special mention about the agriculture and horticulture sectors.
Today, with rising awareness amongst the customers, as well as the farmers regarding food safety, better equity etc. the need to have a robust system that can resolve some of the major agri-related problems does makes sense. Blockchain – A distributed ledger technology, provides the necessary technology infrastructure for automating and digitizing the incredibly complex agriculture ecosystem.
Listed below are some of the interesting and practical use cases of Blockchain in the Agriculture Industry.
Consumer consciousness regarding the safety of the food they are consuming is increasing day by day. This is because food-related diseases and illnesses have become more common today than they were a couple of decades back. This requires bringing transparency to the agriculture supply chain that will help identify and weed out poor processes, as well as poor players. An IoT powered Blockchain based system provides growers with real-time data that can help them monitor soil quality, irrigation, pests for crops under cultivation and monitor storage conditions, freshness, in-transit conditions for harvested crops in a precise way while enabling them to take appropriate measures. These records that are uploaded on a Blockchain are immutable thereby ensuring better accountability and traceability.
Food Supply Chain:
The food supply chain is incredibly complex and inefficient due to information asymmetry. This directly impacts farmers who fail to receive their due share. By taking the food supply chain over Blockchain, the incredibly complex food supply ecosystem can be simplified. Since, Blockchain allows easy, as well as equal data access to all the participant of chain including farmers, distributors, retailers, regulators and customers, data management becomes more transparent and simplified. With a more democratic supply chain, issues related to fair and transparent pricing will be resolved with stakeholders receiving their due share of remuneration.
Authenticity of Agri Inputs:
While farmers are unaware of the authenticity of the agri inputs (seeds and fertilizers) they are buying, retailers tend to make great profit margins. While farmers are at a certain loss, big agri-input players also suffer huge financial losses due to counterfeit products, which also impairs their brand image. With a Blockchain solution in place, each product right from agri input manufacturer to the purchaser can be traced thereby helping farmers and other stakeholders to know about the origin of the product thereby ensuring its authenticity.
Land registering or recording is a tedious process with fraud and disputes over land holdings being rampant. Blockchain can help deal with abysmal state of land records by providing a platform where data can be collected, stored and secured in a transparent and easy to access manner. Being a decentralized platform, the data recorded is easily accessible to all the participants thereby ensuring complete transparency within the system. This will result in huge cost savings for the record keeping firms as maintaining records is an expensive and labor-intensive process. Furthermore, smart contract functionality of Blockchain can allow farmers and corporate firms in easy contracting of land leasing. Also, it will also make public distribution of social schemes for farmers accessible and transparent.
One of the major issues that farmers have to deal with is unpredictable weather conditions. While they have no control over calamitous weather conditions, they can protect themselves from commodities risk by the means of crop insurance. However, inefficient claims processing system built on legacy technologies makes processing of claims a slow process and fails to offer any respite to the farmers especially when they need it the most. With a Blockchain solution in place, the entire crop insurance sector can be streamlined. The smart contract functionality solution uses weather observation data gathered from IoT sensors to trigger terms and conditions so that capital for claims could be settled. While farmers receive the necessary compensation required to meet the crisis, the insurers too become free of processing huge number of claims, as the entire process is automated by the smart contract functionality.
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 decentralizing and handing it over to the participants of the network becomes possible.
With the growing demand for food security, better equity for farmers, land digitization 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.