Case Study

Blockchain in Agriculture

Blockchain can improve data collection and increase transparency.

After a major E. coli outbreak affecting romaine lettuce in 2018, Walmart began using blockchain to better track lettuce and spinach supplies. In the event of another foodborne illness outbreak, this supply chain transparency will allow Walmart to pinpoint and discard the items at risk, protecting customers, saving money and reducing food waste.

The overuse of fertilizers and pesticides in agricultural supply chains has enormous impacts on local water catchments, soil’s ability to sequester carbon, flora and fauna health, and the productivity and profitability of land production. In 2017, General Mills made a three-year $2 million commitment to the Nature Conservancy, Soil Health Institute and the Soil Health Partnership to support the development of digital tools for farmers, landowners and supply chain leaders to achieve widespread adoption of soil health practices.

"Customers, policy-makers, NGOs, investors and employees are increasingly demanding better visibility on where products come from and better management of social, environmental and economic sustainability throughout the supply chain."
Nadia Hewett, Project Lead, Blockchain and Distributed Ledger Technology, World Economic Forum

A Jakarta-based startup, HARA, is using blockchain to collect and manage farm data — from weather, soil and crop conditions to pesticide and fertilizer use — in a bid to help improve farmers’ productivity and improve resource efficiency. In the past year, HARA has collected data from 10,000 farmers across Indonesia with the support of regional governments and communities, and hopes to expand this to over 90% of farmers within the next five years. The company plans to layer satellite and IoT data into the HARA ecosystem to enable even greater efficiencies and productivity for farmers.

As transparency and engagement technologies continue to improve, companies will face pressure to share details of supply chain management. Companies that move quickly to increase visibility of their operations and management of social and environmental risks will likely benefit from increased consumer trust and loyalty, as well as an improved reputation, while laggards risk reputational damage and loss of trust.

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