Before jumping into “How can blockchain help helpless farmers?”, let’s dive into what’s the need to fuse blockchain in agriculture.
The producers (farmers) are struggling all over the world to sell their produce at a decent cost, especially in my country- India where the situations are so severe that some of them end up committing suicide, the middlemen take away ALL their produce and they are left with nothing to feed themselves. They have to protest by eating raw rats to draw attention of the government.
PROBLEM IDENTIFIED: Middlemen
But how can we eliminate the middleman? If that happens, how will the farmer participate in the economy? One might suggest use of PayPal, credit card. But, all these mechanisms require high fee and tough bureaucracy which farmers fail to have and deal with.
Hence, the answer is the divine technology of blockchain. Blockchain establishes a direct link between farmers and retailers/consumers.
Blockchain technology empowers small farmers to get together and organize themselves to reach the market without middlemen.
This happens by adapting the means of cyrptocurrencies like Bitcoin, Ethereum etc. By the means of cryptocurrencies, the farmers get integrated with the world economy because there is no institution in the middle of producer and consumer.
A blockchain is a (ledger) database containing transaction details, information and records called blocks. These blocks hold incorruptible trust i.e. the data in the block CANNOT be changed even if God wanted to do so. In tech terms, data is immutable.
One can put anything (that holds value) on blockchain. Eg. tomatoes, gold, real estate etc.
Ripe.io (a startup) uses blockchain in agriculture. Blockchain can be used to track crops, yielding higher-quality produce and putting better information in the hands of farmers, food distributors and restaurants.
IBM says its technology (HyperLedger) can show where produce came from in seconds. Traditional methods can take up to a week.
Along with costs, blockchain may help how to keep a track of other data related to food as well, like: origin, temperature at which it is stored, how is it being transported etc. Ripe tracked 200 tomatoes on 20 different plants, in red Sweet 100 and orange Sungold varieties, in both early and late-season fields. Sensors recorded environmental factors including light, humidity and air temperature. In the buckets of tomatoes loaded on to trucks for distribution, another set of sensors logged the humidity where they were stored.
So along with cost, other factors are also catered by blockchain beautifully.
What can web developers do?
Developer in Argentina leveraged the disruptive power of blockchain and created a website which has a catalog of everything the farmers produced and the payment is done in Bitcoin when the customer checks out. Below is the link to that website.
Also, it is very easy to incorporate cryptocurrency as a payment gateway in any website. Check out the link below. CoinPay enables you to have payment made via Bitcoin and Litecoin.
At the end, the objective is to provide the farmers with basic financial services which: