Blockchains are “secure by design” an “open, distributed ledger that can record transactions between two parties efficiently and in a verifiable and permanent way”. This architecture serves as an ideal basis for certifying and securing transactions. Blockchains started as technological means to support and secure cryptocurrencies but their use is exponentially expanding to all the sectors in need of consistent certification. Blockchains are therefore applied in Logistics, Health, Higher Education, Creative Industry, Finance and of course in the Agri-Food value chain. Focusing on the Agri-Food sector blockchains are so far used (pilot implementations and / or experiments in certain cases) to the next key areas:
- Registration of holdings, food, animal, plant and transactions;
- Tracking and tracing of products. This potentially enhances the developments in true pricing;
- Transfer of import & export certificates;
- Inclusive development by ensuring access of smallholders to better market possibilities;
- Creating opportunities of automating business processes triggered by a conditioned transaction which is the case of using smart contracts;
Indicative Agri-Food projects with blockchain approaches are following:
- Tuna Tracking and Certification, the project aimed to use a mobile application together with blockchain technology and smart tagging to track-and-trace the origin throughout the tuna supply chain.
- Olive Oil Tracking (Ambrosus), the system enables quality assurance across the olive oil supply chain.
- FoodCoin, FoodCoin system is an Ethereum-based blockchain system designed to create a global market of food and agricultural products.
Consequently, and taking as fact the rapidly increasing level of digitization and demand for data and product integrity, the Agri-Food sector is in a unique position to explore the potential of blockchains. This technology could help the agri-food value chain in improving transparency and efficiency of business transactions, tracking and tracing of food products. Blockchains could also support the development of inclusive business models for new Agri-Food SMEs. Although the application of blockchain in the Agri-Food sector is currently still in its early stages the potential seems to be very challenging and promising.
- Lan Ge, Christopher Brewster, Jacco Spek, Anton Smeenk, and Jan Top, Blockchain for Agriculture and Food, Findings from the pilot study, by the Wageningen Economic Research and TNO, Report 2017-112, ISBN 978-94-6343-817-9, http://www.cbrewster.com/papers/Ge_Blockchain_17.pdf, 2017.
- Giorgio Alessandro Motta, Bedir Tekinerdogan and Ioannis N. Athanasiadis, Blockchain Applications in the Agri-Food Domain: The First Wave, Wageningen University & Research, Wageningen, Netherlands, https://doi.org/10.3389/fbloc.2020.00006, Feb 2020.