Blockchain agriculture enables the traceability of information in the food supply chain to improve food safety. Blockchain’s ability to store and manage data creates traceability, which is used to facilitate the development and use of innovations for intelligent farming and index-based agriculture insurance. It’s a huge step forward in the world of modern agriculture. But how does it work, and how does it make food safer?
What is Blockchain Technology?
You’ve likely heard a lot about blockchain technology with the growing popularity of Bitcoin and other cryptocurrencies, but it may be surprising to find it in the agricultural sphere. Traditionally, we have used ICT (information and communication technology) for databases to track data and maintain the flow of information. Blockchain technology is a new way to power these databases. They give rights to all network participants instead of a single server and administrator. Multiple parties can then access and verify new additions to the database, allowing for more security and less chance of corruption.
It is also more secure than traditional technologies because all parties must reach a consensus to place security blocks on top of encryption. It becomes extremely difficult to tamper with any system.
How Can Blockchain Technologies Be Used?
Blockchain technologies can track all kinds of information regarding plants, including the quality of the seed, how crops grow, and even create a record of a plant’s journey once it leaves the farm. This data can increase the transparency of supply chains and reduce issues related to illegal and unethical production. They can also make it easier to trace any contamination or other problems back to their source in the event of a recall. The top priority with these technologies is sustainability and food security.
When consumers have this level of transparency, they can make informed decisions about their purchases. Often, they’ll use this information to reward farmers and producers who employ positive practices.
Concerns About Blockchain Technology
There are concerns that blockchain technologies can be misused or abused and end up undermining food security. For example, privately owned blockchains are easier to tamper with and are less secure. These blockchains rely on controls set by private organizations, so it is easy to see how the wrong people might manipulate them to their advantage. Meanwhile, small-scale farmers who lack the required size, technological know-how, and scale to implement blockchain technologies may be left behind.
How Must Blockchain Technology Be Handled in the Future?
Many issues must be addressed before blockchain technology can truly integrate into the agricultural world.
First, the implementation of blockchains must be decentralized so that it includes small farmers and rural people. Otherwise, food security will still be an issue. Implementation must allow sustainable and equitable food systems so that consumers can make informed decisions.
There must be education for those who do not have the digital literacy to partake in blockchain technology initially. This is part of decentralizing the system. Aging infrastructure and limited digital literacy among the world’s poor can limit who may participate.
Finally, blockchain technology must be folded into broader food security strategies to ensure that it is amenable to social and environmental values critical to tackling these food insecurity issues among diverse groups.
The most important aspect is that these innovations are deployed equitably so that all stakeholders may benefit from their value.
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