Among the first use cases that demonstrate the potential of blockchain technology in business is the supply chain of the agricultural sector.
Unlike the financial blockchain, where distributed register technology records financial transactions, the agricultural sector also deals with the transportation, shipping and storage of physical assets.
The immutable digital identifiers attributed to items in the supply chain are already demonstrating the potential for the blockchain to improve transparency and integrity of food, creating traceable and verifiable transactions.
This, in turn, improves compliance with food safety regulations and environmental standards and helps eliminate waste.
It also helps eliminate the "counterfeiting" of food, which is a growing problem in which suppliers claim false origins to produce.
The Australian agricultural industry has the size and the focus of technology to be one of the first to adopt the blockchain, and its implementation is set to become one of the industry's leading drivers in 2019, a year that some define the year of "agtech".
The National Farmers & Federation has recently launched its "Roadmap 2030" for agriculture and identified the blockchain as a key technology to change the way goods are certified, processed and delivered, and some important initiatives are already under way.
In a pilot project, a 17-tonne shipment of almonds was sent from Victoria to Germany using the Ethereum platform, digitizing operations, documentation and funding on a specially created ledger.
BlockGrain (now rebranded as Agrichain) is another initiative. The company is developing a software solution to automate information sharing across the agricultural supply chain and is also evaluating the potential for using the peer to peer loan platform among farmers.
The company raised $ 3.5 million from investors last year (which was overwritten) and is looking to raise 25 million Australian dollars in the first public token, or initial currency, to create its own cryptocurrency.
BlockGrain, which developed a software solution that automates the sharing of information, estimates that 30% of the value of loose goods is lost due to inefficient supply chains in Western economies, with a percentage that rises to 50% in the countries in of development.
Caile Ditterich, born in a family of farmers in Victoria and founder of BlockGrain, said: "When we reach a phase of excessive proliferation of products, both producers and consumers are looking for the next level of differentiation. our secure paddock to track traceability by allowing mass-scale adoption of single-source products. "
About 1,000 Australian farmers have now adopted BlockGrain in the last two seasons of growth.
Peer to peer
On the issue of the peer-to-peer loan, BlockGrain sees it as a way to help farmers each other financially to mutual benefit.
There is plenty of space on both sides of the loan equation: money-rich farmers can expect no more than 2.5% interest from Australian banks, while those who access bank debt they pay over 7.7% in overdraft if they qualify, and more than 13 percent if they do not.
"By using BlockGrain, farms of a size will be able to connect in a secure peer-to-peer lending environment that enables companies with a cash surplus to offer short-term loans to those who need access to capital. in the short term, "the company said in a whitepaper released last year.
BlockGrain initially focuses on cereals and cereals, where it faces competition from another supplier called Agridigital, but plans to move into other agricultural products, hence its rebranding in AgriChain.
When it arrives there, however, BlockGrain can find out that there is competition as there are a number of other blockchain initiatives going on.
The Queensland Cane Growers organization was funded last year with $ 2.25 million in funding to develop blockchain technology to better track its products.
Coca Cola has imposed that it wants sugar from "sustainable" growing methods and has a 100% sustainable supply target within the next year.
This is a key advantage for Australian sugar cane growers, and a recent Rabobank survey of 1,000 producers found that they had the highest level of commitment to sustainability accreditation.
While in its early stages, the development of agricultural blockchain technology is already heading towards a key challenge: the scale.
BlockGrain is already facing competition from another startup in its central cereal industry, while Queensland cane growers are moving forward with their solution.
This could be a task for the government, or for industry-based organizations, but the real profit will come through the creation of large-scale platforms and this will require consolidation in the future.
If 2019 is the year of "agtech", it is likely that these are fragmented and focused on small verticals, leaving the biggest task for 2020 or beyond.