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How Blockchain Is Untapping Africa’s Agricultural Potential

Farmer operates his tractor outside Abuja – IFPRI-IMAGES (FLICKR)

Africa is regarded as, arguably, the most significant agricultural region in the world, because of its massive yet significantly untapped agricultural potential. “More than 60 percent of the population of sub-Saharan Africa are smallholder farmers, and about 23 percent of sub-Saharan Africa’s GDP comes from agriculture,” McKinsey reports

In Africa, technology has begun to penetrate the roots of agriculture to improve agricultural productivity. A relatively new application is the use of blockchain in Africa’s agricultural sector. The intersection of blockchain and agriculture in Africa, presents a sublime fusion. 

The Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO) reports that food loss in Africa is as high as over 50% of all produced food in the continent. This is accounted for by the spiking post-harvest losses in the region. To ensure food security for the over 1 billion people in Africa, something must be done to address this alarming issue. 

Nigerian blockchain startup, Hello Tractor, in collaboration with IBM, has taken up the challenge and is using AI and blockchain to address this. The startup is employing blockchain to create a platform that aims to optimize agricultural processes in Africa. In a release by IBM, “The magic behind the idea is what we call an agriculture digital wallet, a blockchain-enabled and AI-based decision support platform, that enables the capturing, tracking, and instant sharing of data, while creating end-to-end trust and transparency for all the parties involved across the agribusiness value chain”. With this kind of system, the farm-to-fork process will be more efficient, and less food losses will be recorded. It will equally improve agricultural productivity, and trigger a boost in the revenue generated from agriculture within the content. 

Apart from the economic impact of a blockchain-based solution like this, the troubling issue of malnutrition in the continent can also be reduced with more abundant food supply, less food wastage and an optimized distribution of food from farm to fork.

Kenyan blockchain-based agritech company, Farmshine, is also integrating blockchain to optimize agricultural operations, particularly in East Africa. The company offers a platform that connects farmers with buyers, suppliers, information and service providers, via a recorded and open distributed value chain which eliminates the need for intermediaries. This enables farmers to easily reach the market at a reduced cost. 

This solution provides farmers on its platform, a leverage to improve their processes and generate more revenue. It equally provides all that farmers will need to ensure smooth and optimized agricultural processes. Everyone along the food value chain, including the consumers, can profit significantly, with this kind of platform.

READ ALSO: Using Blockchain to Simplify the Supply Chain & Logistics Industry in Africa

The journey to untapping Africa’s great agricultural potential is rising overwhelmingly as more blockchain solutions are introduced to address the region’s agricultural challenges. Plaas, a blockchain-powered agritech startup based in Botswana, has already begun to disrupt the way agriculture is practiced in Africa.

According to the startup’s website, “Plaas is a platform that enables the virtual market for agriculture that empowers the farmers of Africa to seamlessly trade their animals and crops at market prices that will boost their income, and information provided by farmers to enrich the crops will help others to match the standards. The app will help empower the farmers of Africa to seamlessly trade their animals and crops at market prices, which in turn, will boost their income. Moreover, the information provided by farmers will help others to enrich their harvest”. With the startup’s mobile application, information about farming operations for each farmer is recorded, to boost productivity. Additionally, the blockchain-powered platform facilitates the better management of daily farming activities by sharing information on farming practices, trading various forms of agricultural products on its online marketplace, and tracking the food supply chain from the farm to the final consumer.

Uganda’s Carico Café Connoisseur is innovatively making use of blockchain to track the movement of coffee shipments. The coffee company uses blockchain technology to share record data of each coffee sack, from the point of planting, harvesting and transportation, to when it eventually gets to the final consumer. The use of blockchain makes it very difficult for the data to be tampered with. With this development, every Carico Café Connoisseur coffee consumer can be more informed on the coffee they consume, by knowing where it was produced and how it has moved after harvesting. No hidden details; absolutely transparent. The company also realized they could generate more revenue from this since many consumers will be willing to pay more to know what exactly has happened to the coffee they are consuming from the time it was planted. This kind of blockchain innovation in agriculture, makes traceability easier. Hence, any problem with the final product can be accurately tracked and traced back to the faulty link in the food value chain.

There is still a lot that blockchain has to offer Africa in the aspect of agriculture. The journey is just beginning, and the results have been tremendous. As more progress is being made with the integration of blockchain technology in Africa’s Agricultural sector, the possibility that Africa will be able to maximize its agricultural potential, in the next few years, becomes much more feasible.

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