Bitcoin’s underlying technology blockchain is beginning to have an impact in supporting farmers and smallholders around the world, writes the BBC.

The Olam Farming Information System (OFIS), not to be confused with the EU body The Organic Farming Information System (OFIS), is an organization which offers transparency for small farmers in 21 countries around the world.

With 100,000 small hold farmers now registered with OFIS across Asia, Africa, and South America, the organization has developed a system which allows easy access and information sorting for the user to get to know more about the farming communities who supply their ingredients.

By using blockchain technology, OFIS collects the relevant data in order to recommend how individual farmers can increase their yields and track their products and trade online. A good illustration of how the project supports the small farmer selling such crops as cocoa, coffee, and rubber, while also often living at subsistence level, is Muhammed Adams, a cocoa farmer from a remote region of Ghana.

Adams from Sefwi Madina had been growing his crops in the same way for the past 25 years until he was able to tap into the OFIS system which has not only enabled him to triple his output but also helped to reduce his reliance on chemical pesticides.

Now, by using apps for text messaging and digital payments, smallholders are for the first time able to use banking services and microloans. Adams can now use the apps blockchain tech to deal directly with advisers, learning that chemicals aren’t the only solution to dealing with diseased crops.

As OFIS states on its website, support for such farmers has been exhaustive in the past as field staff have had to painstakingly collect data using pen and paper, limiting use and scalability, but not now with new mobile technology.

Christian Ferri, chief executive of BlockStar, a blockchain investment adviser, says “there are endless possibilities“, but the technologies required might be beyond the reach of some farmers, adding that “the good news is that I believe we will see the cost of these technologies decrease as adoption spreads”.

Blockchain-related technologies are not simply limited to farmers in developing countries. In the highly developed UK farming community, digital mobile technologies can support small farmers there too, such as Rowie Meers, who runs Purton House Organics, in Swindon discovered.

“Supermarkets are continuously driving prices down, causing many smaller farms to go out of business,” said Meers.

She is now linked directly to the farmers that supply her through mobile tech, thus achieving 70% of the retail price, twice the amount she would expect from supermarkets.


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