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Can blockchain solve two of agriculture's biggest problems?

Blockchain is receiving a lot of hype these days. The number of corporate investors in blockchain companies hit a record high in 2017, with large banks, financial service organizations, and even technology leaders like Alphabet investing heavily in the technology. But, blockchain isn’t just for technology companies. Agriculture companies can gain tremendous benefits from blockchain.

A quick review of blockchain

A blockchain is a distributed ledger – a shared recording of data that provides all members of the blockchain visibility into the information and the ability to update the ledger as required. Why is this so powerful? Because a blockchain provides complete transparency to all participants in near real time. Every member of the blockchain has the same information, removing conflict and facilitating transactions. That level of transparency virtually eliminates fraud. 

Why agriculture?

Blockchain can play a powerful role in improving agriculture business performance in a couple of key ways.


With a blockchain, agriculture can be tracked from farm to retailer, with complete visibility into every step in the chain. A retailer selling pork knows exactly when the animal was slaughtered, when the pork was shipped, how long the meat was in transit, and how long before it spoils. The retailer has this information at their fingertips, and can track the shipment in real time as the product moves through the supply chain.

This level of traceability is even more important if there is an outbreak of food poisoning. Knowing the providence of food enables health professionals to more quickly identify where contamination occurred so they can more quickly address it, potentially saving lives and definitely saving resources.

Finally, traceability ensures that retailers and their consumers who pay more for organic or non-GMO products are receiving the benefits they paid for. A farmer cannot sell produce as organic if the produce was tracked receiving pesticide applications in a blockchain.


Blockchain can completely remove layers in the value chain, enabling farmers to work directly with retailers to increase sales for both parties. This scenario can make a tremendous difference to smaller farms that can service local retailers. If the retailer runs out of tomatoes and that void is noted in a blockchain, the local farmer can ship tomatoes to the retailer immediately, filling the gap quickly and efficiently. A blockchain enables the entire transaction to occur without a single telephone call or order form. The farmer notes the lack of tomatoes and updates the blockchain to show they will fill the order, the blockchain is updated, and the retailer is prepared to receive the tomatoes. New markets can open for small farms, including local restaurants and marketplaces.

The future of blockchain 

Investment in blockchain continues to grow, and new applications are being developed rapidly. Blockchains can improve efficiency tremendously, eliminating several steps in the communication process so orders are fulfilled faster and more accurately. One such application is currently being used to remove layers in the agriculture value chain, providing complete visibility into demand for the farm’s products and enabling faster fulfillment and increased sales for both retailers and farmers.

blockchain solves agriculture challenges

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