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Australian Farmers Can Look to France for Blockchain Advice

Australian Farmers Can Look to France for Blockchain Advice

As the Australian food industry passes through a rough period in 2018, blockchain endorsements in the French supply chain industry might offer some routes to recovery.

Perhaps the most significant impact of DLT has been on supply chain networks as companies discover a new took for offering customer satisfaction through a transparent and accountable transfer of goods across borders.

Both the US and Europe have locked into this in a big way with retail giants Walmart and French supermarket chain Carrefour both finding initial positivism in blockchain and its functionality. There, even the sacred turkey now travels to the Thanksgiving table via blockchain.

On the other side of the world, Australia is beginning to look at how its supply chains can be protected with the added security that DLT is providing elsewhere. The food industry there did not have a good year, exacerbated by the news that fruit contaminated by sewing needles were found in strawberry punnets in a supermarket chain, resulting in the potential loss to the industry of AUD 130m a year. Tons of unwanted fruit have been dumped due to the sudden unpopularity of supermarket fruit as a result and one customer was hospitalized.

Apart for the obvious repercussions for sales in Australia, the country has taken a double hit as the tampered Australian strawberries then landed on New Zealand’s supermarket shelves causing two retailers to put up a ban on buying strawberries from Australia.

Unsurprising then that supermarkets are now looking to blockchain with a little more immediate interest than previously. The Australian market needs to regain the trust of the public, something which can be achieved by careful monitoring of the supply chain from farm to supermarket shelves, something that was clearly breached in these incidents down under, albeit by an extreme case of mismanagement.

The French model employed by Carrefour demonstrates that DLT can offer simple solutions for producers, manufacturers, and buyers across supply chains. This system provides customers with a blockchain-based traceability program, currently limited to some poultry in the chain’s Auvergne stores. The system offers a record of the chickens’ life from egg to supermarket. Shoppers can use a smartphone to scan in a code on the packaging to obtain details on each stage of production, including origins, earlier location, feed and where the meat was finally processed.

Around the world, growers are finding success in change. From Queensland cane growers tracking the movement of sugar around Australia, to growing and tracking organic rice in Cambodia, and cocoa in Ghana, blockchain is providing farmers with a way of tracking their products from field and farm to table.

 

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Farmers Worldwide Are Now Seeing Blockchain’s Real Advantages

Farmers are beginning to see the potential of new technology, including blockchain, as a solution to supply chain problems in the industry.

Although farmers are sometimes skeptical towards tech solutions coming from an industry steeped in traditional methods, more of them are taking the plunge given the obvious advantages of blockchain’s supply chain clarity and accountability.

Around the world, growers are finding success in change. From Queensland cane growers tracking the movement of sugar around Australia, to growing and tracking organic rice in Cambodia, and cocoa in Ghana, blockchain is providing farmers with a way of tracking their products from field/farm to table.

Organizations such as Olam Farming Information System offers transparency for small farmers in 21 countries around the world. With 100,000 small hold farmers now registered with OFIS across Asia, Africa, and South America, the organization has developed a system which allows easy access and information sorting for the user to get to know more about the farming communities who supply their ingredients.

In mid-2017 Af Funder calculated a potential $213 million was there to be accrued by farm management software and IoT start-ups due to rising interest within the industry. Most development in the industry has been in traceability solutions which many smaller producers have already adopted.

However, there is the potential for blockchain to operate in the farming industry on a much larger scale, such as the French supermarket giant Carrefour’s blockchain project which began tracking its chicken supply earlier this year. This provided customers with an egg to table history by using a smartphone to scan a code on the packaging to obtain details on each stage of production, including origins, earlier location, feed and where the meat was finally processed.

The potential to cut down on an illegal harvesting and shipping fraud are other advantages. A new project in Kerala in India’s deep south will now be ensuring that goods now include RFID tags and the use of IoT devices to monitor transportation and delivery, primarily of milk, vegetables, and fish. All components of the milk supply chain will be strictly monitored and recorded on the blockchain.

Projects like this are making illegal trading far more difficult; the cost of food fraud has now reached an estimated $40 billion a year according to the UN.

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Digital Currency Ecosystem in Africa Grows, But More Connectivity Needed

A new report by the International Telecommunications Union (ITU) has outlined that Africa will need to invest more in internet connectivity in order to maintain the continent’s current pace of cryptocurrency adoption.

The popularity of Bitcoin in Africa continues to grow as a result of the presence of cryptocurrency exchange platforms. There are benefits to cryptocurrency ownership that are unique to the African continent, many devolving from the widespread unstable economic conditions.

Owning and trading in cryptocurrencies is a trend on the rise in countries across the globe. The markets in the USA and Asia have typically gained media traction, while the phenomena in Africa is left largely uncovered. Moreover, a large number of recognized exchanges don’t offer services in Africa, whereas, some recognize the significant marketplace that includes many Africans who do not have access to formal bank accounts.

If Africa is to be the next boom as many experts are currently predicting, it will need to make major changes to its telecommunications infrastructure across the continent, as indicated by the ITU report. The report shows that to connect the majority of Africans to the internet will cost as much as $450 billion.

Currently, governments on the continent spend significantly less than the global average with most countries spending three times as much on connectivity. Low education levels and the high cost of internet capable devices have been cited as contributing factors to the current slow uptake of the internet in many areas of the continent.

The uptake of digital currency has been prolific in Africa over the past two years, with many countries taking on the advantages that currencies such as Bitcoin offer over local fiat currencies. Kenya, Ghana, Uganda, Nigeria, South Africa, and Zimbabwe have all shown a significant increase in crypto adoption.

Coindirect co-founder Stephen Young says that Africa has unique problems and these must be considered in any startup plan for cryptocurrency adoption on the continent. He feels that current exchanges don’t take these into consideration. In terms of African fiat currencies, Young identifies their systemic volatility, insecurity and lack of governance as factors that the crypto space need to take on board: He argues:

“If Africans are to benefit from the cryptocurrency revolution we need make it easier to buy, store and trade cryptocurrencies. As Africans, it is our responsibility to help build the infrastructure and we need to be a part of the revolution.”

It is clear that this “infrastructure” depends on connectivity. ITU reveals that out of the 52 percent of the world’s population who remain unconnected to the internet, the majority of these live on the African continent.

One country is attempting to address this disparity. Rwanda has managed to achieve a 90 percent broadband spread with its nationwide rollout of optical fiber throughout a larger part of the country. The project began in 2009 in order to boost broadband services and attract foreign business investment.

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Nigeria to Launch State-Backed Blockchain Hub in African Crypto Surge

A new Nigerian blockchain hub is being launched by the government in conjunction with a UK blockchain firm.

The popularity of Bitcoin in Africa continues to grow, enabled by the presence of a greater number of cryptocurrency exchange platforms. There are benefits to cryptocurrency ownership that are unique to the continent of Africa, many devolving from the widespread unstable economic conditions.

Google searches reveal that , Nigeria and South Africa are frantically searching online when it comes down to cryptocurrency and Bitcoin. Many nationals fall foul of inflation and hyperinflation, resulting in weak and unstable financial systems.

Recently, countries such as Zimbabwe, South Sudan, and oil-rich Nigeria have all suffered, many of these countries with inflation rates well into the hundreds of percentages. In these situations, it is hardly surprising that the people look to a more stable form of a monetary solution in their daily lives.

Lady Victoria Walker, CEO of the United Digital Currency Reserve Foundation and UK based fintech entrepreneur feels that new technologies such as blockchain and cryptocurrency are essential factors in empowering African leaders to inject growth and financial inclusivity into their economies. She argues:

“Bitcoin is a reality. We have all major world governments scrambling to make sense of it and world leaders sharing their views on the currency. For the past 700 years, our world has relied on the European legacy banking system for means of payments and transactions. Bitcoin is definitely challenging the traditional way when it comes to the transfer of value. Just like the internet changed how we shop, bank, date and find information.”

Nigeria is looking to this kind of future with its new Africa Blockchain Lab in the Kaduna area, designed to create blockchain growth through crypto solutions across the region. The state-backed blockchain hub project between KAD ICT Hub and the British crypto firm Coinfirm wants to stake its claim as a societal changer with latter’s AMLT network offering rewards to Nigerians reporting Cyber Crime and other illegal activity online.

The Africa Blockchain Lab, launched last week has promised to offer financial inclusion to many Nigerians who are excluded from the country’s financial system and also attract new startups as part of the country’s drive to support the adoption of blockchain and cryptocurrency technologies in the continent.

As Lady Walker suggested, an understanding and deployment of bitcoin can kickstart the financial growth in Nigeria and Africa as a whole.

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Live At The Kasbah: Richard Branston Hosts Marrakesh Blockchain Summit

British business entrepreneur and founder of Virgin is now to host a major blockchain summit at his home in Marrakesh, writes Forbes.

The summit is normally held at Branston’s personal offshore home on Necker Island in the British Virgin Islands. However, it was devastated by last year’s Category Five storms which tore through the island, destroying numerous private residences.

In view of this, an alternative location needed to be found for the high-profile conference, which was responsible for the forming of the Blockchain Alliance which now includes 36 government agencies and the Global Blockchain Business Council, with members from 35 countries.

This year, the founder of the annual event, investor Bill Tai, announced that the event would be held at Branston’s Kasbah Tamadot in Marrakesh, Morocco, with eminent guests Google co-founder Sergey Brin and Kenya cabinet secretary Joseph Mucheru, along with 30 speakers. Building blockchain in Africa is reported to be the central focus of this year’s conference.

Tai commented:

“The whole continent is a bit of an unknown to a lot of folks because they just don’t get much exposure to it, I think getting a lot of people together that are knowledgeable, with reach, and high profile, that collectively can form a view about what are the opportunities at hand can both serve philanthropic and commercial interests.”

Blockchain in Africa is developing slowly but surely. Ghana-based Bitland and Kenya-based Land Layby are working to use blockchain to create formally-recognized infrastructures for proving land ownership, and the technology is increasingly being used in logistics to track goods from growth to table. Many small businesses are getting much-needed support from NGOs and private companies integrating blockchain projects into a range of sectors across the continent.

Tai has his own project in mind which he says he is due to announce, called Barking Dog. The project is reportedly designed to help governments without land titling in place to use blockchain to assure citizens and governments of their rights to land and, once established, to tokenize the assets.

The World Economic Forum estimates that 90% of Africa’s land is “completely” undocumented and Tia maintains blockchain could become a major factor in effecting the necessary changes to the status quo.

 

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Bitcoin Tech Supporting and Educating Small Farmers Worldwide

Bitcoin’s underlying technology blockchain is beginning to have an impact in supporting farmers and smallholders around the world, writes the BBC.

The Olam Farming Information System (OFIS), not to be confused with the EU body The Organic Farming Information System (OFIS), is an organization which offers transparency for small farmers in 21 countries around the world.

With 100,000 small hold farmers now registered with OFIS across Asia, Africa, and South America, the organization has developed a system which allows easy access and information sorting for the user to get to know more about the farming communities who supply their ingredients.

By using blockchain technology, OFIS collects the relevant data in order to recommend how individual farmers can increase their yields and track their products and trade online. A good illustration of how the project supports the small farmer selling such crops as cocoa, coffee, and rubber, while also often living at subsistence level, is Muhammed Adams, a cocoa farmer from a remote region of Ghana.

Adams from Sefwi Madina had been growing his crops in the same way for the past 25 years until he was able to tap into the OFIS system which has not only enabled him to triple his output but also helped to reduce his reliance on chemical pesticides.

Now, by using apps for text messaging and digital payments, smallholders are for the first time able to use banking services and microloans. Adams can now use the apps blockchain tech to deal directly with advisers, learning that chemicals aren’t the only solution to dealing with diseased crops.

As OFIS states on its website, support for such farmers has been exhaustive in the past as field staff have had to painstakingly collect data using pen and paper, limiting use and scalability, but not now with new mobile technology.

Christian Ferri, chief executive of BlockStar, a blockchain investment adviser, says “there are endless possibilities“, but the technologies required might be beyond the reach of some farmers, adding that “the good news is that I believe we will see the cost of these technologies decrease as adoption spreads”.

Blockchain-related technologies are not simply limited to farmers in developing countries. In the highly developed UK farming community, digital mobile technologies can support small farmers there too, such as Rowie Meers, who runs Purton House Organics, in Swindon discovered.

“Supermarkets are continuously driving prices down, causing many smaller farms to go out of business,” said Meers.

She is now linked directly to the farmers that supply her through mobile tech, thus achieving 70% of the retail price, twice the amount she would expect from supermarkets.

 

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