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AgTech Blockchain

Blockchain for Food and Agriculture

Blockchain is an emerging technology allowing universal transactions among distributed parties, without the need of intermediaries. Blockchain is not a single technology but uses a combination of technologies that have a considerable history in computer science and in commercial applications like public/private key cryptography, cryptographic hash functions, database technologies especially distributed databases, consensus algorithms, and decentralised processing. Blockchain could pave way for a transparent supply chain of food, by facilitating the sharing of data between disparate actors in a food value chain.

Despite huge positives of the technology and the great interest it has received from public and private parties in general, some critical questions like accessibility, governance, technical aspects, policies, data ownership and regulatory frameworks need to be addressesed for its mass adoption.

Some common ways in which blockchain is applied in food and agriculture value chains are

Supply Chain Traceability: It enables companies to quickly track unsafe products back to their source and see where else they have been distributed. This can prevent illness and save lives, as well as reducing the cost of product recalls.

Example: Aglive – An Australian livestock tracking platform, has completed a pilot that monitored shipments of beef to China using blockchain. The pilot saw cattle tracked from Macka’s cattle farm in regional New South Wales to an abattoir located in the same state. From there, frozen beef products were tracked across the supply chain as the meat was transported by land freight interstate to Queensland, and then shipped to Shanghai — ensuring that the products were stored under safe conditions throughout transit. The products were then distributed to grocery stores in Shanghai.

Agricultural Commodities Trade: Commodities management involves deal documents, contracts, letters of credit, supply chain finance, traceability and government certifications. Blockchain is enabling these data management challenges and payment time lags.

Example: AgriDigital – A blockchain-based and integrated commodity management solution for the global grains industry.

Digital Marketplace: Digital marketplaces allow buyers and growers to connect directly, increasing the amount of profits that go to the farmers, and investors to invest directly into farms producing commodities and then trade on that investment.

Example: Twiga Foods Ltd – The company, buys fresh produce from 17,000 farmers and processed food from manufacturers and then delivers it to 8,000 vendors, most of whom are women.

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Accredited ‘safe’ vegetables help Vietnamese farmers earn more

Farmers in Northwest Vietnam are accessing a new path to market for their vegetables—via an accreditation program—to help them sell into high-value modern retail markets in Hanoi. The region’s favourable climate and soil conditions are suitable for growing tropical, subtropical and some temperate vegetables. Vietnamese Good Agricultural Practices (VietGAP) provides guidelines on how to grow crops and manage them postharvest to ensure food safety and improve product quality and traceability while supporting the health of producers, consumers and the environment.

With the development of supermarkets and food service market channels in Hanoi and other big cities, customers are now demanding high quality agricultural products—especially ones from mountainous areas like Son La province—because customers believe they taste better and are more nutritious. Furthermore, customers want ‘safe’ vegetables which are grown using good agricultural production techniques and are managed to ensure the food is free of food-borne diseases and pathogens.

Read more at ACIAR

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Pesticide Fear Is Ill-Founded and Harmful to Public Health

There is nothing inherently wrong with sharing information with the public about the presence of pesticide residues in food. Consumers are constantly asking for greater transparency about the food they eat. However, it is also critical to provide consumers with context for such information. Consumers should not be afraid of the food they eat. Instead they should feel confident that whatever fruits and vegetables they purchase will be safe and nutritious and contribute to the well-being of their family. A 2015 analysis of dietary exposure to pesticides in the International Journal of Food Contamination concluded that pesticides in the diet continue to be at levels far below those of health concern.

Media scare tactics leave consumers afraid rather than informed.

Read more at Futurity