If you ate today, thank a farmer. We go to a doctor once in a while but when it comes to basic sustainability of our lives, we need to thank a farmer at least thrice a day. However, the reality is completely different from the ideal world. Small and poor farmers across the globe are debt-ridden and suffering to compete with Multi-national companies. These MNCs control the crop production and the market value of the produce. It is time, we address the concerns of these helpless farmers and express our gratitude by incorporating them into the modern agriculture scenario!
The United Nations in its report to ECOSOC stated that 50% of crop value vanishes between harvest and the point when the product reaches the market for sale. So where does the problem lies? The most prominent issue faced by farmers for centuries is the interference of many intermediaries.
The unheard grievances of the helpless farmers
The agricultural supply chain completely lacks transparency. There is no direct interaction between the farmers and the consumers or the government during the sale of agricultural product.
The poor farmers are unaware of the conditions of the market as their product is handled by the intermediaries. These intermediaries not only affect the payments of the farmers or the pricing of the food products but actually manipulate the entire Agriculture supply chain. These so-called trustable third parties are responsible for grave issues such as sudden price inflation, reduced payments to the farmers, black marketing of food products, etc.
So, we have finally decoded that the lack of transparency is the root cause of devastating problems of helpless farmers in the entire Agriculture scenario. The interference of intermediaries needs to be minimized to make the system more transparent and make farmers aware of the real price of the product along with the amount they are being paid. This is causing farmers all over the world to struggle to sell their products at a fair price. The technology of Blockchain seems to be a perfect remedy for all the problems of poor farmers associated with the intervention of middlemen. Blockchain seems to be a storm that will completely revamp the agricultural sector, from the farm of a helpless farmer to the plate of a consumer.
How can Blockchain solve problems of helpless framers?
The World Bank in its report stated that “Agriculture can help reduce poverty, raise incomes and improve food security for 80% of the world’s disadvantaged population who live in rural areas and work mainly in farming.” Blockchain technology can be leveraged by companies, government, nonprofit and other organisations to address challenges of helpless farmers on a worldwide scale.
Fundamentally, Blockchain is a digital ledger to store information that is decentralized which means that it can be accessed by multiple parties across the globe who are the participants of that platform. The information stored on this digital ledger is time stamped and cannot be altered under any circumstance, i.e. the information is immutable.
The most striking feature of Blockchain is its property to inhibit the presence of intermediaries into the system by establishing a direct communication network between farmers and the consumers. The absence of intermediaries into the system presents numerous merits such as higher profit for the farmers, less expenditure on transportation, more time and cost efficient Agricultural supply chain. The adoption of a Blockchain-powered platform to sell agricultural products by the farmers would simplify the whole agricultural supply chain and would also integrate the farmers to the world economy.
The platform would give power to the hands of farmers and would enable them to organise themselves into a group and infiltrate the market without the intervention of any intermediaries. This would disperse the power of MNCs who usually are the largest buyers, setting prices and advising farmers what to grow in a particular season. With Blockchain, community-sponsored farming and small enterprises can again make their mark felt in the international agriculture market. Smart contracts-based distribution and tokenized shareholding would help community-sponsored agriculture in scaling with greater efficiency by establishing direct connectivity between the farmers and consumers.
The added advantage of trading with the help of cryptocurrencies would also empower the helpless farmers to be more independent. Blockchain is accompanied by the possibility of a massive increase in individual freedom and creativity.
For a long time, we have been discussing solutions to the problem of lack of monitoring of pesticides and fertilizers in the farm and the fraud by farmers or intermediaries about the quality of the produce. Blockchain integrated with technologies like IoT etc can be the one-stop solution to the problem of monitoring of the products right from the seeds to food served on our table. It can be leveraged to monitor everything from individual animals at ranches, specific farm fields, to all the locations at a minimal cost. On a Blockchain-enabled platform, the farmers would be able to monitor their farm along with environmental conditions like temperature, humidity etc at all instances.
Apart from profit identification in the Agriculture supply chain for poor farmers, Blockchain can also be used in the cumbersome process of land registrations. Often poor farmers are not qualified and fall prey to fraud while land registration. Blockchain can be miraculous in this cost- and labour-intensive process of recordkeeping. The poor helpless farmers are heavily dependent on government subsidies but the amount of funds which actually reach these helpless farmers is a big mystery. Blockchain promises effective data management ensuring that the allocated amount rightfully reaches the hands of the farmers who are in desperate need of the same.
Conclusion: Help to helpless farmers
Farmers are the very heart and soul of the economy of many developing and poor countries. It is very unfortunate to see them struggling to sell their products at a genuine price. With wider adoption of Blockchain, we can expect an efficient supply of products, fair pricing, efficient supply and improved product tracking. It is overwhelming to see how Blockchain seems to be a solution looking for a problem to solve. The need is to actually address the issues and act on them. In the end, we must not forget the wise words of Thomas Jefferson and respect our farmers. Long way to go, cheers to our farmers!!
“Agriculture is our wisest pursuit because it will, in the end, contribute most to real wealth, good morals, and happiness” – Thomas Jefferson