Oxfam, a global charity organization, has launched a blockchain-based project to empower farmers by enhancing the transparency and traceability of the rice supply chain in Cambodia.
As stated by the Khmer Times, the app, named “BlocRice”, will implement smart contracts using distributed ledger technology (DLT) where detailed data such as the farm gate price of organic rice, trade volume and method of transportation is recorded.
Initially, the project will work with 50 rice farmers in Preah Vihear province. During the first year, BlocRice is expected to accelerate the bargaining power of the participants in negotiations with the buyers of their products, which will potentially offer them higher prices. Furthermore, BlocRice app will act as a connector between the parties involved in the supply chain including the farmers, Cambodian rice exporters and Dutch importers – right from the beginning of planting season. According to Solinn Lim, the country director of Oxfam in Cambodia:
“The application of blockchain technology is expected to enhance the negotiation power of small-scale farmers in their rice value chains, who are usually poor primary producers. All actors, from the agricultural cooperatives up to [Dutch rice manufacturer] SanoRice, will have a shared, digital contract. During the process, from planting to the manufacturing of rice crackers, the chain actors will share information with each other through their shared database powered by blockchain.”
During the pilot phase, Cambodia’s biggest local commercial bank, Acleda Bank, will launch and facilitate cashless payments to the farmers. As such, the participating farmers have already opened accounts with this leading bank.
Currently, it is estimated that the agricultural sector accounts for approximately 60% of Cambodia’s workforce. By enhancing transparency pertaining to prices, the majority of the Cambodian society is expected to be empowered and earn more in order to better their livelihoods.
Although currently, blockchain is only applied to organic rice, in the future it could be widely applied to other agricultural products such as cashew nuts, pepper and cassava. Furthermore, the number of farmers signed up on BlocRice is expected to increase to 1,000 and 5,000 by 2020 and 2022 respectively.
Southeast Asia – The Rice Capital
With Southeast Asia being the rice capital of the world, Cambodia is not the only nation that is exploring blockchain to empower farmers. Previously, as stated by CCN, Trade Policy and Strategy Office (TPSO) of Thailand has mentioned that it will launch blockchain-based projects to enhance efficiency in exporting rice. Pimchanok Vonkorpon, director of TPSO, indicated that:
“Using blockchain for the process could reduce processing time to less than three days, improving transparency and increasing confidence and trust for exporters and foreign importers, benefiting Thai farmers.”
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