Unlock the potential of Blockchain for Agriculture Value Chain & Farmer Empowerment: Dr U S Awasthi

No.PR-266 September 23, 2020 New Delhi Unlock the potential of Blockchain for Agriculture Value Chain & Farmer Empowerment: Dr U S Awasthi Blockchain technology is one of the greatest innovations of digitalization after the internet, which provides trusted transactions and removes the need of intermediaries deliberated Dr. U S Awasthi, MD and CEO, Indian Farmers Fertilizer Cooperative Limited (IFFCO) in Global e-Conclave organized by PHD Chamber of Commerce and Industry on 'Blockchain for Farm Production, Marketing and Supply Chain'. He said that there has to be a bottom up approach starting from farmer enablement. He asserted that Blockchain has the potential to improve agriculture value chain, from smart contracts, traceability, digital payments, insurance and improved logistics. He quoted “One Nation One Tech” is need of the hour.  Talking about the challenges faced in the agriculture sector with the farmers and land ownership, he highlighted the need for standardization of process, contract farming, and technology empowerment for regulating this sector. Dr. Awasthi discussed that in the field of agriculture, Blockchain can be used for the hiring system of small farmers, research, regulating loans, land registration and selling or purchasing. There have been a lot of initiatives undertaken by the Government like the Integrated Fertilizer Management System that can boost the usage of Blockchain. With our diligent efforts, land records are being digitalized and, we are making efforts to digitize this backbone sector, deliberated Dr. Chindi Vasudevappa, Vice-Chancellor, National Institute of Food Technology Entrepreneurship and Management (NIFTEM), Ministry of Food Processing Industries, GOI. He further added that we are slowly progressing towards Blockchain technology and it important to digitize the entire Value Chain Management System along with Peer to Peer networking. Dr. Vasudevappa highlighted that we need to utilize Blockchain that is accessible to all the players that will provide more seamless communication regarding what needs to be done in every vertical of the process that will be done transparently at the same time giving importance to all levels of digitalization. Mr. Manoj Das, Managing Director, North Eastern Regional Agricultural Marketing Corporation Limited mentioned that there is a huge scope of Blockchain technology in agriculture specifically in organic products since traceability is very important. He discussed that Blockchain Technology will be very useful in the Northern Region as it cut the middlemen out of the agriculture system and boost the profits of the farmers. Mr. R P Singh, Director, Indian Farmers Fertilizer Cooperative Limited (IFFCO) discussed the present and future of Blockchain in different fields including agriculture, and farm production, marketing, and supply chain. He also discussed the challenges in agriculture that include lack of networking, quality standardization, climate constraints, unorganized, voluminous product, physical handling, and storage. He highlighted that agriculture is one of the sectors that remains strong in the severe times of pandemic and, the assimilation of Blockchain in agriculture will require robust planning and execution for the brighter future of this sector. Dr. Neelam Patel, Sr. Advisor (Agriculture), Niti Aayog deliberated that Blockchain technology in agriculture can make the transaction more transparent and reduce the involvement of middlemen. The technology can increase the income in this sector leading to a rise in India's GDP. She also emphasized that this Blockchain technology should be implemented in other sectors as well. We need the support of private industry along with the government to implement this technology speedily on the ground. We need to improve data standards and the availability of machines and technology. She also talked about the reports and initiatives undertaken by Niti Aayog to promote Blockchain technology. Dr. Saravanan Raj, Director (Agricultural Extension), MANAGE, Ministry of Agriculture & Farmers, Welfare, GOI deliberated that Blockchain technology can be used to the agriculture sector for overseeing farm inventory; enhancing agricultural supply chain, modernizing farm management software, AgTech IoT optimization; fair pricing; agricultural subsidies oversight; community-supported agriculture, mobile remittance for small farmers; greater accountability for multinationals and incentivizing sustainable practices. He discussed the present and future of food chain management and the capabilities of Blockchain in giving audibility, immutability, smart contracts, and disintermediation. He also discussed the challenges and opportunities that included a standalone system to connected and collaborative; digital literacy; adoption of technology by eco-system players; creating consumer awareness; ecosystem transparent; better value to farmers; cost products; quality inputs; ethical supply chain; reliable and quality data; farming dynamic robust data and access to farm support services. Ms. P R Lakshmi Eswari, Senior Director, C-DAC Hyderabad discussed the importance of Blockchain technology shared the kinds of Blockchain transactions, value propositions of integrating Blockchain that included immutability, transparency, trust, track and trace, data integrity, and distributed work. She shared that the important characteristics of Blockchain are transparency, time-stamped, immutable, no single point of failure, irrevocable, and programmable. She also shared the sectors and regions of the country using Blockchain technology. Talking about the agriculture sector, she discussed the problems in the agriculture supply chain system and how Blockchain can be integrated into the sector at the grain elevator, distributor, Seed Company, retailers, customer, and farmer level. She highlighted that this integration can increase farmers' income, reduce wastage, and improve crop yield and quality. Mr. Kamalakanth Kalyankari, Chief Coordinator, Indian Farmers Fertilizer Cooperative Limited (IFFCO) eBazar Limited gave detailed working about IFFCOe Bazar Limited and IFFCO Bazaar App and its benefits offered to the farmers especially in the times of the pandemic. Mr. Samudra Mukherji, Manager, S&O, Deloitte Touche Tohmatsu India LLP while giving a background about the impact of COVID-19 on the traditional agriculture value chain mentioned that the intervention of the Blockchain will lead to optimizing the food supply chain; facilitate transactions, and improve crop insurance through visibility and improved documentation. Mr. Satish Salivati, CEO, InteliTix Solutions Pvt. Ltd mentioned that there is a need for food safety and compliance especially for organic produce along with verifications and authentication of data and certifications. He discussed the benefits and impact of Blockchain where there is an interconnected view of the entire supply chain and helps in getting the confidence of the customers at the end of the process Mr. Gaurav Somwanshi, CEO & Co-Founder, EmerTech Innovations Private Limited talked about the challenges, limitations, and hardships faced by farmers in India about the Agrotrust project made by Sahyadri and EmerTech Innovations Private Limited. Mr. Vilas Shinde, Chair & MD, Sahyadri Farmers Producer Company Ltd. mentioned that the challenge is the high range of prices of commodities and crops in the farming sector. Blockchain will help in price distribution and help the farmer understand the customer needs and vice-a-versa.  Dr. Ajay Data, Chair, ICT, and Electronics Committee, PHD Chamber while giving an industry perspective and the potential of Blockchain especially in agriculture mentioned that integration of Blockchain in this sector will help to boost the efficiency in supply chain and other processes. He also talked about the initiatives undertaken by the government and other companies in leveraging Blockchain technology across various sectors.  Mr. Kunal Singhal, Co-Chair, ICT, and Electronics Committee, PHD Chamber proposed a formal vote of thanks to all the delegates and participants. The conclave was moderated by Dr. Jatinder Singh, Director, PHD Chamber, and as supported by Indian Farmers Fertilizer Cooperative Limited (IFFCO). Ends Media Division PHD Chamber of Commerce and Industry