AgriFoodTrust provides the testing and learning platform and knowledge base for digital trust and transparency technologies bringing together rigorous scientific research, value chain actors in complex dynamic agri-food systems, development practitioners and policy makers.
We believe that technology will be an enabler for food system transformation in low and middle income countries. However, in these dynamic complex agri-food systems implementation models are still in their infancy. At the core of the platform are use cases, ranging from ideas, minimal viable products, proofs-of-concept to pilots in various stages of maturity all the way through to scalable and scaled use cases involving blockchain and other digital trust and transparency technologies.
Barring major catastrophes, in 2050, we will be with about 10 billion people. Ensuring that the world population has access to ample, diverse and nutritious food while staying within the planetary boundaries isn't going to fly with business-as-usual. This is compounded by climate change. This implies that we have to do things differently. The agricultural technologies to make this transition into inclusive sustainable food systems are available. What is holding us back? Counterproductive Incentives, poor governance structures, prevailing institutional arrangements, market failures, to name a few. Technology may be at the foundation of the solutions, but technology is the easy part, solving the softer side has proven to be a seemingly insuperable challenge over the past decades. Using digital trust and transparency technologies on top of other solutions, business models and partnerships is the potential game-changer that will allow us to achieve the desired food system transformation.
Many of the wicked problems and seemingly insuperable challenges facing dynamic complex agri-food system value chains, especially in our target geographies in low and middle-income countries boil down to a lack of trust, transparency and reliable governance structures.
We believe that the smart use of digital trust and traqnsparency technologies such as blockchain and distributed ledger technology can help solve some of these issues. Many people associate blockchain with bitcoin (Nakamoto 2008), but for our use cases it is more interesting to go to its roots (Haber and Stornetta 1991).
The key to digital trust and transparency technology is to create an immutable record that can be trusted because on the one hand it is difficult to mask tampering and the information is distributed amongst a sufficiently large group that the risk of collusion to mask tampering is lower than the acceptable risk for a specific use case.
We can observe a growing gap between the high-income countries and low and middle-income countries relative to the ongoing digital revolution. Low and middle-income countries (LMICs) are increasingly participating in the digital world as can be observed in the increasing penetration of cell phones in these geographies and an increasing use of simple smart phones which allow the rise of digital services such as the success story of mobile money transfer in east Africa through M-PESA. However, the digital revolution as a way to ensure that poor farmers in resource-scarce settings start profiting of global economic development is not yet being realized.
Four to five years ago no one was talking about distributed ledger technology in agri-food. Blockchain technology was primarily known as the motor under the bitcoin. In the high-income countries a few small proofs-of-concept and pilots were started especially linked to traceability (Hyperledger.org, 2019). It was only in 2016 that cryptocurrencies made it into The Gartner hype-cycle located just under the peak of inflated expectations. In 2017 and 2018 blockchain was over the top, on the way to the trough of disillusionment (Smartinsights.com, 2019). The use of distributed ledger technology for agri-food, especially in low and middle-income countries, holds a lot of promise and is at the point of innovation trigger, as it not even mentioned in the latest Gartner hype-cycle on blockchain (Gartner.com, 2018 and Gartner.com, 2019).
Our focus is on the low and middle-income countries around the globe, especially those geographies where the CGIAR is active.
We recognize that many scaled and viable use cases of digital trust and transparency technologies are located in high income countries and/or refer to high value commodities. We believe that we can learn from these experiences for revolutionizing the transformation of all food systems in low and middle-income countries.
Hence there are a number of use cases from high-income countries in the database that we believe are relevant from our perspective.
The ultimate beneficiaries are the resource poor food producers and consumers and the value chain actors engaged in dynamic complex agri-food systems.
These beneficiaries will be key stakeholders and participants in proofs-of-concept, pilots and use-cases.
The direct beneficiaries of the program will be value chain actors, development NGOs and local start-ups in our target geographies who are offered the opportunity to use new digital technologies to address wicked problems.
We welcome the involvement all all stakeholders who share our vision and mission.
The platform is inclusive. Organizations that have use cases they want to share on the platform are welcome to do so.
We are looking for funding organizations that are interested in supporting the research we do on digital trust and transparency use cases, whether it is related to the development of minimum viable products, proofs-of-concept, or pilots.
We are also interested in brokering the relationship between on the one hand our partners developing scalable solutions to address the wicked problems our target beneficiaries face, and on the other hand private equity willing to invest in solutions that have undergone rigorous research to determine what works and what doesn't.
A key element to our involvement in looking at blockchain technology is the related research component. We want to develop a shared common research protocol to be able to evaluate and analyze the pilots and proofs of concept.
The key to the knowledge base is to have rigorous research on the use cases on what works, what does not work, when, where and how. Related to business models, technology solutions, partnerships, regulations, governance structures, institutional arrangements and more.
Upcoming events of interest to the community can be found here, including but not limited to those organized by the blockchain coalition of the community of practice on socio-economic data, which is part of the CGIAR Platform for Big Data in Agriculture. Upcoming training events are also listed here.
Building capacity in low and middle-income countries to develop and implement use cases for the transformation of complex dynamic agri-food systems is key part of AgriFoodTrust.
We accomplish this through the organization of events where information can be exchanged and through the organization of courses and masterclasses on topics related to digital trust and transparency technologies.
The fourth industrial revolution or data revolution that is fueling developments in digital trust and transparency technologies threatens to widen the digital divide. It is our mission to ensure that we do all the needful to prevent this. Inclusive development targets not just the resource poor but specifically women, youths and marginalized ethic groups.
Issues around ethics, privacy, data confidentiality and cyber-security are fast moving goal posts. Keeping abreast of these issues is critical to ensure we achieve our mission.
The key to the development of successful solutions related to the major challenges we face is through meaningful partnerships between food system stakeholders including civil society, private and public sector. The partnerships include research organizations, development practitioners local national, international, multilateral. In order to develop the minimum viable products, proofs-of-concept and pilots, and to do the research related to that funding is needed.
Our mission to provide a knowledge base on digital trust and transparency technologies, including blockchain hinges crucially on our ability to communicate our findings with key stakeholders.
Here we highlight some key use cases related to our themes: more information about the themes can be found below.
Our knowledge base is searchable based on geographic location, specific keywords, contributors, etcetera.
Digital service provision, the internet of things (IoT), sensors, robotics, earth observation and remote sensing are increasingly being used to close the yield gap. In the process data related to farmers, their livelihoods and their enterprises are being collected without the farmers having control. In many cases one can assume that outsiders know more about the farmers and their farms than they do themselves. This requires a huge amount of trust in entities that collect and store data. As low and middle-income countries become part of this data driven industrial and agricultural revolution, we need to ask ourselves if in all cases, this trust is warranted. A system where farmers remain in control of their data and can determine how that data is shared would go a long way to preventing abuse, and ensuring the democratization of data use. This is our fourth proposition.
Tagged in the database: DigitalIdentity
Blockchain technology is best known to the majority of people for its use as underlying technology for cryptocurrencies.
Most emerging economies are unable to cover the agricultural sector with traditional financial services. The lack of financial mediation in ur target geographies is linked to the risk associated with lending to smallholder farmers and the high cost to monitoring and audit.
Cryptocurrencies potentially provide a credible alternative to address these issues, as well as online fundraising/crowdfunding. Financial technology, often shortened to fintech, is the technology and innovation that aims to compete with traditional financial methods in the delivery of financial services. It is an emerging industry that uses technology to improve activities in finance.
Tagged in the database: FinTech
Food quality assurance through the use of digital trust and transparency technologies
Tagged in database: FoodQuality
Using blockchain technology track and trace quality of food to ensure higher food safety. Think for instance aflatoxins. This is about unseen characteristics. Being able to ensure trust in the the presence or absence of invisible characteristics can go a long way into improving nutrition.
Tagged in database: FoodSafety
Managing logistics in value chains in low and middle income countries can be a challenge. To improve accountability and efficiency, while lowering overhead costs can potentially be achieved using blockchain technologies as enablers, but requires testing.
Tagged in database: logistics
Enhancing input quality and providing assurance to farmer's that the inputs they buy are of the desired quality is a major step needed.
The traditional approach of increasing agricultural productivity through genetic gains is definitely insufficient to meet the future demand. This will require closing the existing yield gaps, especially in low and middle-income countries where this yield gap is substantial. Closing the yield gap has proven very daunting. The agricultural technologies to do so exist, but require overcoming serious challenges linked to market failures, institutional arrangements, and governance structures. Moreover, agriculture is a risky business for farmers. Farmers simultaneously face serious market risks as well as environmental risks in terms of uncertain weather and the possibility of losing their harvest and herds to pests and diseases. It is not strange that, agricultural decision-making is based on risk management.
If market-related risks associated with the use of existing agricultural technologies that have been tried and tested could be substantially diminished, it will be possible to close part of the yield gap.
The key element in these technologies is the use of improved inputs. It has been demonstrated that in our target geographies inputs are of dubious quality if not outright counterfeits. Using blockchain technology is a potential game-changer.
Tagged in the database: InputPassport
Using blockchain and distributed ledger technolofgies to enhance the efficiencu and effectiveness oftrade and commercial exchange.
Tagged in database: Trade
Net farm incomes are reducing globally and that concerns everybody in the food system. We all depend on farm productivity and its regenerative capacity. Farm income is therefore the core theme of this summit: how can we raise margins, create new business models and incentive circular production? And what is the role of technology in this?
Tagged in database: FarmIncome
The population will be living predominantly in urban settings in contrast to today, where the majority of the world’s population is still living in rural areas. Urbanization and increased welfare is likely to induce changes in diets and in food systems as value chains become longer people and people buy more processed food, either as street food or in super-markets. The distance between commodity and food is growing. Moreover, in many countries in the world, we have witnessed a double burden of malnutrition (simultaneous occurrence of obesity and hidden hunger).
To address these issues paradigm shifts are needed in how people determine their diets and blockchain technology can potentially enable this transformation.
Tagged in database: NutritionHealth
Digital solutions for making payments or sending remittances are becoming increasingly popular as can be seen with MPESA in East Africa. These solutions can benefit from adding layers of trust and security.
These solutions are at the core of enabling environments for rural transformation and hence have a potentiallly large impact on the way the rural economy and farming systems will develop,
Tagged in database: FinTech
There is potential for reducing risk and enhancing resilience using digital trust technologies.
Tagged in database: RiskResilience
In the past, many cooperatives, producer associations and other rural organizations have suffered from corruption, mismanagement of funds and general lack of trust.
Recent experiments have indicated that putting transactions in these organizations on the blockchain and using smart contracts can take away the negative side-effects and enhance the positive contributions of these organizations to rural and agricultural development.
Tagged in database: RuralOrganization
Supply chain optimization refers to the application of digital trust and transparency technologies to ensure the optimal operation of a manufacturing and distribution supply chain.
Tagged in database: SupplyChainOptimization
The majority of the world's biggest food manufacturers have either signaled or stipulated quantifiable demand for biofortified ingredients but a lack of integrity on the biofortified food commodity supply chain is a barrier to trade and scale.
Tagged in the database: Biofortification
More production has to be attained with less resources to achieve sustainable production systems to stay within planetary boundaries. This implies more efficient water use, more efficient fertilizer use, less use of crop protection chemicals that are also a hazard to biodiversity and/or human health, no deforestation, improved management of soil resources. Currently, sustainable intensification practices are not valued because the environmental hence societal value cannot be priced as the characteristic is invisible in commodities. Making the invisible sustainability indicators visible is a necessary precondition for achieving sustainable development.
Tagged in Database: Sustainability
Tokenization, when applied to digital trust, is the process of substituting an asset or a sensitive data element with a non-sensitive equivalent, referred to as a token, that has no extrinsic or exploitable meaning or value. The token is a reference that maps back to the actual assets or sensitive data through a tokenization system.
Tagged in database: Tokenization
RFID chips, virtual barcodes, QR codes that can't be copied are among the technical solutions used for tracking and tracing. Other solutions may be coming available that need to be tested. Moreover, the usefulness of these solutions among resource poor target beneficiaries in dynamic complex agri-food systems remains to be seen
Tagged in database: TrackTraceSolution
Sensors, whether stand-alone or linked to the internet (IoT), can be used for verifying the validity of digital information in information systems linked to value chains. New sensors are coming available all the time and need to be tested for their applicability
Tagged in database: Sensors
Earth observation and remote sensing using satellites or UAVs are increasingly being used for authenticating information. New data strea,s and algorithms are coming available all the time and need to be tested for their applicability.
Tagged in database: RemoteSensing
Testing different blockchain and blockchain-like solutions for their applicability in low and middle income countries among the resource poor.
Tagged in database: BlockchainTest
This category captures blockchain solutions that are available for agriculture and food systems in low and middle-income countries.
Tagged in database: BlockchainSolution
The data base is under development. It will initially contain use cases from CTA and the Strike Two Summit tracks.
[ideally this becomes a multilevel accordion]
Food Safety in value chains addressed with digital trust and transparency technologies.
Logistics made efficient with digital trust and transparency technologies.
Blockchain enabled input passport.
Blockchain enabled land tenure and land transactions.
Novel farm income sources based on digital trust and transparency technologies.
Nutrition and/or health enabled with digital trust and transparency technologies.
Rural organization 4.0 where digital trust technologies are used for trustworthy governance.
Using transparency technologies to track and trace biofortified foos through the food system.
Using transparency technologies to make sustainability indicators visible in value chains.
Technology as a Service.
Blockchain enhanced trade.
Technical solutions to solve track and trace problems.
Sensors for anchoring virtual information.
Remote sensing for anchoring virtual information.
Testing novel blockchain development products (MvPs).
Food quality assurance through the use of digital trust and transparency technologies.
Reducing risk and enhancing resilience using digital trust technologies.
Application of digital trust and transparency technologies to ensure the optimal operation of a manufacturing and distribution supply chain.
The process of substituting a sensitive data element with a non-sensitive equivalent, referred to as a token, that has no extrinsic or exploitable meaning or value.
[ideally this will be a multilevel accordion]
Searching the knowledge base is possible by theme, and country.
The key to the knowledge base is to have rigorous research on the use cases on what works, what does not work, when, where and how. Related to business models, technology solutions, partnerships, regulations, governance structures, institutional arrangements and more.
Below are a number of exciting concept notes and awesome project proposals that are looking for interested funders.
. The use cases themselves can come from anywhere. The platform might be able to support some use cases, others are supported by for instance private sector partners or development NGOs. For many of those external use-cases there will not be funding available in the original project for rigorous scientific research, hence the platform will need to fund that component. The results of the PoCs and pilots and the scientific research related to them become part of the knowledge exchange of the platform. This is through open access publications, open data products and open access software code, models and tools.
The proofs-of-concept, pilots and use-cases are organized separately, but follow a similar pattern. The key element for setting up a successful use case in the initial stages is the organization of a relevant multi-stakeholder platform (MSP). Actually there are two levels of MSP involved. The first one is at a higher level of organization and includes the platform, funders, key stakeholders that own the problem and potential solution, the research community. At the implementation, level the MSP includes the key local stakeholders involved.
The pilots and proofs of concept that are linked to this work should adhere to the shared common research protocol to ensure learning is possible. Because many of these sub-projects will be proofs-of-concept or pilots, there should be a clear strategy for follow-up if successful. This means there also has to be an exit strategy for the pilot phase.
Initially there need to be proofs-of-concept related to technological solutions, business models, partnerships, stakeholder engagement to name a few examples. These proofs-of-concept take place in a protected environment with limited scale and scope. To address a specific issue more than one PoC may be needed. After the PoC phase we eneter a piloting phase where the solution, business model, stakeholder engagement models etcetera are tested in increasingly less controlled settings involving more and more stakeholders. At a certain point the use case should be able to continue on its own and key stakeholders or private equity should step in. If this is not the case, the solution is not (yet) viable.
We will develop a personalized nutrition product that helps people get fit by mapping adequate food sources. Our end-game is to be globally accessible to people in urban settings where fully rely on street-food. The Pilot will be implemented in a controlled setting by behavior change agents and food providers for visitors of the largest music festival in Kenya. All our users will get a personalized diet and the locations around them where they can find the precise food they need to be healthy.
Team: CIMMYT and The New Fork
contact: Gideon Krusema (CIMMYT)
Investigating the practicalities of implementing a large scale digital trust and transparency technology project in a major food staple in a developing market.
The majority of the world's biggest food manufacturers have either signaled or stipulated quantifiable demand for biofortified ingredients but a lack of integrity on the VAOM supply chain is a barrier to trade and scale. HarvestPlus has evaluated several options and opportunities and proposes to combine the innovative nutrition innovation of biofortification with the modern and potentially transformative solution of Distributed Ledger Technology (blockchain).
The activities of this pilot studies will be as follows;
1. Identification of 3 end users of VAOM – 1 small, 1 medium, 1 large business, consistently using VOM for over 1 year.
2. Complete map of these supply chains, evaluating current players, issues and any existing traceability methods.
3. Creating the pilot system required for the DLT in the identified 3 supply chains.
4. Testing the pilot DLT system with 1 of the identified supply chain (This will be theoretical due to timing of season/planting/harvest/food production).
5. Creation of database of database of users and expressions of interest in large scale-up of this pilot.
6. Investigation into gender and inclusivity – how can a larger scale project ensure that DLT, traceability is gender inclusive?
Team: HarvestPlus, The New Fork, CYMMIT, El-Kannis Inc.
Contact: Jenny Walton (IFPRI, HarvestPlus)
Increased use of improved seed offers opportunities to improve food security, income generation, and overall rural livelihood resilience, yet in Central India significant anecdotal evidence points to counterfeit seed in maize systems, and scientific evidence exists of counterfeiting in the country. Further challenges for the development of viable markets for improved seeds in the region include: limited access by the rural poor, uncertainty over quality and other seed traits, uncertain provenance, and a need for more data on impact and targeting of seed programs.
Blockchain technology offers an exciting opportunity to address the information gaps that have limited expansion and development of formal seed systems in Central India. The technology is still maturing, but there have been some notable successes using it to improve traceability in agri-food systems, demonstrating that this technology may enable rapid, cost-effective deployment of distributed systems for traceability on a large scale. Blockchain has demonstrated comparatively low deployment costs, immutability of records, and new mechanisms for building trust where there is no central intermediary. These capabilities, when joined with other data flows, point to blockchain being a potentially transformational technology for improving the performance of seed systems.
The consortium will test, document, and seek to scale deployment of a combination of digital technologies providing large-scale, timely intelligence on the provenance of seeds and enhancing overall performance of the seed system in contributing to the well-being of vulnerable smallholders in Central India.
Team: CIMMYT, The NewFork, Wageningen University & Research, Borlaug Institute for South Asia
Governance structure is still under development.
Data, code and documents shared through the knowledge base of AgriFoodTrust should be made as publicly available as possible with appropriate licenses or user agreements attached.
The launch of the portal was funded through a seed money grant provided by CTA and The CGIAR Platform for Big Data in Agriculture community of practice on Socio-Economic Data.
The development of AgriFoodTrust has been supported by CGIAR Research program on Maize and the CGIAR Research program on Wheat.
All research conducted on use cases that are submitted to the testing and learning platform that involve stakeholders should ideally have been cleared by an IRB or other Research Ethics Committee.
All research undertaken as part of projects directly linked to AgriFoodTrust that involve human subjects are required to obtain research ethics review and clearance prior to implementation.
Projects funded through AgriFoodTrust can request review though CIMMYT's IREC please contact: CIMMYT-IREC@cgiar.org
AgriFoodTrust is hosted at the International Maize and Wheat Improvement Center (CIMMYT). It is linked to the CGIAR Platform for Big Data in Agriculture. The testing and learning platform is coordinated by Gideon Kruseman (CIMMYT) and Marieke de Ruyter de Wildt (The New Fork).
Gideon focuses primarily on the knowledge base and the rigorous science involved in building that knowledge base. His primary interest is in closing the digital divide.
Marieke, through the New Fork works with corporate organizations in high income countries where the vast majority of scaled use cases exist. These use cases can provide valuable insights for the nascent applications in low and middle-income countries.
Chris brings the review and project work of the Technical Centre for Agriculture in the application of blockchain and data driven technologies in agriculture in Africa, the Caribbean and the Pacific. His primary interest is in data driven solutions for the smallholder farmer.
Gideon Kruseman | main coordinator of AgriFoodTrust
International Maize and Wheat Improvement Center (CIMMYT)
Carretera México-Veracruz Km. 45, El Batán, Texcoco, México, C.P. 56237
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