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Although the agricultural sector is one of the sectors that stands to benefit the most from blockchain technology, a lack of infrastructure has held the industry back.
Although the agricultural industry stands to benefit greatly from the introduction of distributed ledger technology, many farmers lack the digital resources required to enable the implementation of blockchain solutions.
Bridie Ohlsson, CEO of digital agricultural technology provider Geora, spoke on Wednesday as part of Australian Blockchain Week about the complexities of promoting DLT adoption in primary industries.
“In ag tech, it’s been a problem of not having enough infrastructure, not there not being a use case,” she said. “As long as we have farmers calling up and saying, ‘Hey, your product looks great, but I don’t have internet on-farm,’ that’s an infrastructure problem. And so, we definitely need to be investing more in simply access to technologies.”
“In 2016, when we started piloting some of the applications of blockchain for [agriculture], we were moving people off pen and paper, and our biggest competitor was Excel.”
Ohlsson also argued that agriculture has so far failed to realize the promise of blockchain technology as a force for democratization, with the majority of DLT pilots being executed by large corporate entities:
“Blockchain has been a world of multimillion-dollar pilots for vertically integrated companies. It hasn’t held true to its promise necessarily of democratizing access to technology, and it’s been too technical and too expensive for 570 million farmers globally to access.”
Ohlsson, on the other hand, claims this is evolving, claiming that the technology will now be sold at a low cost “rather than starting with a huge pilot agreement, a whole lot of legals, and hundreds of millions of dollars in the bank.”
“I believe it is shifting, and I believe this puts us in a good position to capitalise on what we haven’t been able to deliver previously,” she said.
With Australia losing billions of dollars per year due to food and wine brands falsely citing Australian origin in foreign markets, a growing number of companies are attempting to use blockchain to certify provenance and accelerate savings through the agricultural supply chain. BeefChain, AgChain, and VeChain are only a few of the solution suppliers.
Last year, it was announced that Mastercard, Visa, and AliPay will be participating in the recently formed APAC Provenance Council, which will concentrate on supply chain tracking pilots in the Asia-Pacific region.
In 2018, Australia’s National Transport Insurance announced a trial with BeefLedger to improve beef export supply chain integrity.