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Blockchain Technology: Solution to Africa’s Agricultural Challenges?

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By Antony Simbowo – EuroAfricaNews – Correspondent East Africa

Technology has become the crux of agricultural progression and increasing production while ensuring that contracts with farmers and consumers remain true to book. A most recent development involves the application of blockchain technology in smart farming. Blockchain technology is developed in the form of a ledger that lists each account and transaction, even those stored by any participant. The collective management of the ledger is a peer-to-peer network that requires that the network verify every new record prior to being added to the blockchain.

In an article, frontiersin.org reported that the entire network or its majority should agree to change or alter any data within a blockchain. This makes it a challenge and almost an impossibility to change the data recorded within a ledger. For that matter, blockchain produces a truthful account and record regarding farming, inventories and any agriculture agreement that often are expensive to collect, distribute and store for many farmers.

Every transaction within the peer-to-peer network is transparent and does not need the services of intermediaries such as banking institutions or intermediaries common in the agricultural sector. Since the participants are anonymous, blockchain restores trust due to the transparency involved in its application and the reliability of tracing every transaction. With smart contracts in blockchain technology, any emerging issues should be reported within the network in real-time. In this sense, blockchain technology provides a record of all steps within an agricultural produce’s value chain from production to its end. Another important aspect of blockchain technology is that data stored can be accessed on smartphones, making it a viable means for small-scale farmers to track deals made with the consumers.

Smart greenhouses are also a way by which farmers can enhance monitoring and hence the operations involved in the production process. In this instance, Internet of Things-IoT- sensors are utilized locally as blockchain with an enhanced central management system by the owner farmer. The application of IoT and blockchain has a disruptive impact on agricultural production if employed. Moreover, by storing all the vital information regarding their agricultural produce, farmers get to avail data needed by consumers and processors for utilization in informed decision making. It also allows for the quick response and seamless recalling of foods should they be found unsafe for consumption. With the aid of financial auditors, fairness should be ensured in crop prices hence giving the farmers true worth of their produce. Smart contracts also result in automated information concerning the sales made annually or monthly.

According to pixelplex.io, blockchain in agriculture is a mitigating measure to ensure that aspects like tracking food, quality and safety of food, enhancing monitoring mechanisms to predict trends in agricultural production and forecast weather. Internet of things –IoTs- possess sensors that can be utilized to generate data and data storage for farming initiatives.

In this respect, blockchain can be implemented in the traceability of the agricultural supply chain hence minimizing losses and ensuring accountability. Hence, blockchain technology gives room for traceability of every needed information within the food sector’s supply chain, thereby improving food safety. Therefore It is a secure way to store and manage data. It facilitates the design and utilization of data-driven innovations needed for the propulsion of intelligent farming and enhancing applied innovative index-centred agricultural insurance.

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