BLOCKCHAIN AND SUBSISTENCE FARMING IN AFRICA

 

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Blockchain is changing the world fast.

The blockchain technology is to be used to transform the jewellery business globally and every business in it, the questions many African farmers will ask is about blockchain and subsistence farming in the continent.

So let us ask on their behalf: “Will blockchain help subsistence farmers in Africa? If Yes, then how?”

This post will answer both questions with not just theoretical application of blockchain but a real life case study.

The answer to the first question is a big, FAT YES!

As regards to blockchain and subsistence farming in Africa, the countries that adopt blockchain will benefit immensely.

We have a success story in David Davies – the CEO of AgUnity and founder of AgriLedger – a mobile app helping farmers in developing countries.

AgriLedger app helps farmers create an immutable, tamper-proof ledger to create trust between several transacting parties.

Davies talks about pilot projects working with wheat farmers in Kenya and cocoa bean farmers in New Guinea.

The blockchain-based app lets farmers carryout several transactions like hiring the services of custom seeders and harvesters, partnering with other farmers so that they can leverage on the collective bargaining power, take their produce to market and monitor it.

What this has done with the famers is to help them build trust with other farmers, vendors, processors and brokers and from the two completed pilot projects, AgriLedger has increased income by 300%.

Let’s see how it was made possible by blockchain technology:

1.     Facilitating Partnerships

Most African farmers do not keep records of their own farm. This makes partnership with fellow farmers a hard thing to do. This is because when tracking becomes impossible to do, farmers will not know if all other farmers are contributing and receiving their fair share.

 

With an autonomous source of truth that the blockchain-based AgriLedger offers, farmers can combine their resources without being anxious about whether they are getting what they are owed. Blockchain and subsistence farming in Africa are a perfect fit.

 

2.     Guarantee of Payment

Most farmers with smaller than five acres who definitely will benefit from mechanical seed planting but cannot afford to buy their own expensive seeding equipment because he has no cash at the start of the growing season.

 

Formerly, this implied planting the crop by unevenly hand – a very unproductive and inefficient process. With AgriLedger, farmers can combine their small plots to make it worthwhile for a custom seeder to plant and guarantee his payment so that he gets paid directly from the farmers’ cooperative.

 

3.     Automated Record-keeping

Keeping farm records has been a common problem for subsistence farmers. However, the few who do seem to be doing far better than their colleagues.

 

Davies saw this problem of not keeping records firsthand in the month he spent in Liberia interviewing farmers. Blockchain technology serves as a massive step toward running a farm like a business and making the most profit. Unfortunately, current attempts get the farmers to see the value and potential in adopting record-keeping as a habit are still generally unsucccessful.

 

With AgriLedger, transactions like labor, sale of the harvest and basic records are kept for farmers. With time and proper education, blockchain and subsistence farming in Africa will be a norm. The farmers will understand the value of record-keeping to their long term profitability.

 

4.     Greater Value at the Farm Level

Most farmers labour for months, hoping for their payday to arrive during crop harvest. At this point, trust becomes extremely important as this is usually their main opportunity to earn income from their hard work.

 

What farmers used to do on this situation is to sell to those who can pay them cash immediately. This hugely reduces the number of potential buyers and in several occasions, agents and middlemen capitalize on this desperation for quick cash by offering money far less than the worth of the product.

 

Blockchain Technology also makes it possible for farmers to combine resources and channels for post-harvest storage and processing – in essence, giving them more choices to earn more.

 

5.     Reduction in Waste of Agricultural Produce

Many agricultural produce decay quickly if left unprocessed. Whether there are buyers or not available, farmers do not get paid for their spoil produce.

 

With blockchain technology, collective partnering among farmers can help them negotiate with companies to process their produce and minimize losses from decaying if they do not get buyers on time.

 

Processing will add more value to the produce and this means more income for the farmer.

 

By partnering, the farmers get the produce processed in bulk and sold. The consequent reduction in the amount of crops that are wasted will result in more profit. They also can track their crop while being processed with the trust that they and the processors will get paid at the end.

The marriage of blockchain and subsistence farming in Africa will be a beautifully profitable one. It is just a matter of time.

WATCH A 2017 AGRILEDGER FIELD REPORT VIDEO HERE

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